27% fall in sowing, Centre calls states’ meet today on threat of drought

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New Delhi | Updated: July 8, 2019 4:32:51 PM

The June deficit of monsoon rainfall (33%) was the highest in past 5 years. But the last 10 days of rains have reduced the overall deficit in monsoon to 21% now from 36% on June 26.

 kharif crops, irrigation in india, agriculture crisis, Water management, Water crisis, india, drought in india Sowing of kharif crops was lower at 234.33 lakh hectares as of July 5 from 319.68 lakh hectares in the year-ago period.

The Centre has called a meeting of state agriculture ministers on Monday, ostensibly to discuss various flagship schemes like PM-Kisan, crop insurance and pension for farmers. But given a worrisome 27% drop in sowing area of kharif crops due to delayed and deficient monsoon, preparedness to tackle a possible drought in many parts of the country could also be on agenda, sources said. The meeting has been convened at a short notice of three days.

Agriculture ministers of some states may not be able to attend as their presence would be required for their respective Assembly sessions, sources said.

kharif cops

Sowing of kharif crops was lower at 234.33 lakh hectares as of July 5 from 319.68 lakh hectares in the year-ago period. Because of scanty rainfall, farmers have so far sown crops in 22% of total kharif areas of nearly 1,064 lakh hectare, whereas they should have covered more than 30% by this time in a normal year.

The June deficit of monsoon rainfall (33%) was the highest in past 5 years. But the last 10 days of rains have reduced the overall deficit in monsoon to 21% now from 36% on June 26. There has been widespread rainfall over central India, the main soyabean- and pulses-growing region, since June 29, and the deficiency has narrowed to just 1% from about 35% in only 10 days.

But south and north-west regions saw less rainfall in the period. Farmers in pulses-growing Marathwada (rainfall deficit 34%) and cotton-producing Vidarbha (20% deficit) are waiting for rains to start sowing operations.

“Last few days good rains were witnessed all across the state. The sowing area will improve in the next few days,” said Ajit Kesari, principal secretary (agriculture) of Madhya Pradesh.

The IMD data show the monsoon seasonal rainfall in the state was 24% more than normal as on July 7, compared with 35% deficit as on July 1. The state is the largest producer of soyabean and tur and one of the key producing states of kharif crops.

Cotton acreage has slipped 16% from a year ago and the production may fall for the second consecutive year as the top producer, Gujarat, has received 20% below normal rains, so far. The deficiency is even higher at 47% in the main growing regions of Saurashtra and Kutch.

The monsoon, which hit 7 days late in the mainland, has covered the entire country, barring Punjab and a few districts of Haryana and Rajasthan. The normal schedule of covering the country is July 15.

Meanwhile, the government has proposed to name the pension scheme for farmers as PM Kisan Maandhan Yojna, which will also be discussed in the conference of agriculture ministers. Other schemes listed for discussion include – Kisan Credit Card, PM Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY) and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana.

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