Rabi may cover 3 m ha more

Written by Commodities Bureau | Agencies | New Delhi, Sep 24 | Updated: Sep 25 2008, 05:58am hrs
Faced with the prospect of a slowdown in agriculture growth and to make up for the loss in area during the ongoing kharif sowing season, the government has targeted to bring an additional acreage of around 3.07 million hectare under cultivation during the coming rabi season. Of this, around 28.5 million hectare has been targeted to be brought under wheat, up from last years actual acreage of 28.19 million hectare. The area under rice is expected to be same as that of last year, at 4.38 million hectare. In India, rabi crops are planted in October and November and the harvest starts from January onwards.

In total, around 53.29 million hectare of land is targeted to be brought under cultivation during the coming rabi season, up from 50.28 million hectare during the last rabi season, agriculture commissioner NB Singh said during a presentation at the Rabi Campaign-2008, held in New Delhi.

The government has also targeted to increase the acreage under pulses to 13.71 million hectare next season, up from 12.21 million hectare in 2008, while the total area under maize is aimed at 1.62 million hectare, up from 1.12 million hectare. The government also aims to bring around 5.06 million hectare of land under jowar during the coming rabi season, up from 4.36 million a year earlier.

Foodgrain production in the rabi season has remained almost stagnant since 1998-99 and stood at 109.70 million tonne last year though kharif output has shot up by over 18 million tonne to 120.97 million tonne during this period, Singh said.

The agriculture commissioner said that the delayed withdrawal of monsoon has improved soil moisture throughout the country and this would aid crop coverage in the rabi season. Acreage under pulses and oilseeds could be increased substantially, while the country needs to be prepared for early sowing of rabi crops in central and western India. However, in certain regions, excess moisture may delay sowing and cause seedling mortality, Singh explained.