Rabi sowing kicks off on brisk note

Written by Commodities Bureau | New Delhi, Nov 7 | Updated: Nov 9 2008, 03:20am hrs
Encouraged by late monsoon and stable prices, farmers across India have started sowing wheat and other rabi crops on a brisk note. However, experts feel that it is still early to predict the final harvest as change in weather conditions and slowdown in sowing could impact output. According to the latest government data till November 6, wheat has been sown on around 2.26 million hectare, up from 2.10 million hectare, during the same period last year.

India harvested a record 78.40 million tonne of wheat last year, because of increased sowing and good remunerative prices. Last year, the government also raised the minimum support price of wheat by Rs 150 per quintal to Rs 1,000 per quintal, which experts said was one of the main reasons for a bumper harvest and massive procurement.

Among other major foodgrains grown during the rabi season, data showed that jowar had been planted on 3.76 million hectare till November 6, up from 3.12 million last year, while maize has been sown on 177,000 hectare, up from 113,000 hectare last year. In total, coarse cereals has been planted in around 3.97 million hectare till Thursday, up from last years 3.25 million hectare, the statement added. The data also showed that the total oilseed sowed during the week ending November 6 was estimated to be around 4.67 million hectare, up from 3.14 million hectare sown during the same period last year.

India cultivates mainly rapeseed, groundnut, sunflower and safflower during the rabi crop season, sowing for which starts around October and the crop is harvested from January onwards. The data showed that rapeseed, the largest oilseed grown during the rabi season has been planted on around 3.48 million hectare, up from 2.11 million hectare sown till November 6 last year.

Rapeseed is mainly grown in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh during the rabi season. Pulses, which mainly comprise of gram and lentils, has been sown on around 6.38 million hectare till Thursday, up from 3.90 million hectare last year.

Sources said that good late showers mainly over central India has left the soil with adequate moisture for farmers to start their rabi sowing earlier than expected. Indias southwest monsoon shed 48.7 millimetres (1.9 inches) of rain in the week ended September 24, more than the 50-year average of 35.7 millimetre for the period, the weather office said. Showers totalled 859.3 millimetre in the June 1-September 24 period, 1% less than the average.