The area under summer-sown crops surged nearly 63% until Friday from a year earlier, aided by a favourable base and adequate water reserves, reports fe Bureau in New Delhi. However, monsoon showers, having exceeded the benchmark long-period average (LPA) by as much as 28 — the highest this season — up to June 25, have lost vigour over the past few days to drop 7% from the LPA until Friday.
Last year, the sowing of various kharif crops was adversely affected by widespread dry spells initially, following a 36% drop in seasonal showers from the LPA between June 1 and July 16 in 2014, and water reserves, too, were below the benchmark 10-year normal average.
As per the latest data from the agriculture ministry, the coverage of paddy — the most important summer-sown crop — rose 4.4% until Friday from a year earlier.
Areas under pulses and coarse cereals more than doubled up to Friday from a year earlier, while those under oilseeds marked an over threefold rise from the same period last year.
Monsoon showers — which covered the entire country on June 26, more than two weeks ahead of schedule — were 16% higher than the LPA up to June 30.
However, the excess rainfall last month boosted sowing as well as water reserves, which were 33% higher than a year ago until July 16 and 12% above the normal average. The coverage of oilseeds, which are mostly grown in western and central India that had received excess rains in June, has seen the maximum rise from a year before. Areas under all other major crops, barring cane, have witnessed a rise so far.
According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), the quantum of monsoon rainfall across the country during June 1-July 17 has been 296.2 millimetres, compared with the LPA for the period of 318.4 millimetres. The department has predicted that rainfall over the country is likely to be 92% of the LPA in July and 90% of the LPA in August. The LPA is calculated on the basis of the average annual rainfall recorded between 1951 and 2000 (89 cm) for the the June to September period.
Meanwhile, to help farmers tide over vagaries of monsoon, the government has issued a detailed region-wise advisory, asking them to take up short-duration crops such as oilseeds and pulses. Farmers have been advised to undertake light hoeing and mix mulch with crop residue to conserve soil moisture where the monsoon has been deficient.
The IMD last month had revised downward its forecast of seasonal rainfall (June-September) for this year to 88% of the LPA, from 93% reported in April. However private forecaster Skymet has predicted a normal monsoon, with showers at 102% of the LPA.