Kharif crop sowing deficit narrows as monsoon picks up

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Updated: August 17, 2019 3:01:16 AM

A 21% rise in seasonal showers from the normal level in the past one month has narrowed the kharif crop sowing deficit (year-on-year) to 4% as of Friday from as much as 9% until July 12.

The sharp pick-up in monsoon since early July has driven up overall rainfall up to Friday this season (June-September) by 2% from the long period average (LPA) or the ‘normal’ level. (Representational image)The sharp pick-up in monsoon since early July has driven up overall rainfall up to Friday this season (June-September) by 2% from the long period average (LPA) or the ‘normal’ level. (Representational image)

A 21% rise in seasonal showers from the normal level in the past one month has narrowed the kharif crop sowing deficit (year-on-year) to 4% as of Friday from as much as 9% until July 12. This has eased concerns over grain production, providing some comfort to the government that is busy battling a pronounced economic slowdown.

However, areas under paddy, the main kharif crop, continue to trail the last year’s level (See the chart).

The sharp pick-up in monsoon since early July has driven up overall rainfall up to Friday this season (June-September) by 2% from the long period average (LPA) or the ‘normal’ level.

Although sowing activity has faltered due to initial rough weather, that is changing fast and the government expects the deficit to be erased over the next two weeks.

However, the sudden spurt in showers has caused floods in many states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat and Odisha, which may come to haunt policy-makers.

However, flood situations in some states are expected to improve in the coming weeks, as the weather office has predicted a break in monsoon shower in the next fortnight mainly in southern, western and central regions. This will contain losses. Officials say it’s still early to forecast farm production for the crop year that started in July.

The central India region that covers states like Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, which was 17% deficient until July 18, has now been 16% surplus rainfall since June 1. Similarly, the rainfall in the southern states is now 4% more than normal, as against 30% deficit until July 18. The deficit in the main cereal bowl north-west region has now shrunk to 7% as of Friday from 14% until July 18.

From August 17 onwards, the country will start observing poor monsoon conditions that will extend for almost three weeks, said Jatin Singh, managing director of Skymet. The monsoon rains during this period will largely be confined to Odisha, Bihar and east Uttar Pradesh due to the shifting of the trough, he said.

There is an immediate need for the farmers to drain out excess water from the field which may damage crops, particularly after floods in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. The dry weather condition will definitely assist farmers in draining water, Singh said. Cotton and soybean fields that are waterlogged will benefit from it as further rains not expected in these states, he added.

The agriculture ministry data on Friday show that there has been significant improvement in sowing areas under coarse cereals in the past two weeks as the deficit (y-o-y) has narrowed down to just 0.3% now from 6% as of August 2. The deficit in pulses acreage has further shrunk to 3.5%, against 5% until August 9.

The area under oilseeds is also just down by 0.7% from the year-ago level. The acreage of main oilseed crop soyabean is higher at 111.5 lakh hectare as on August 16 against 111 lakh hectare in the year-ago period. The groundnut acreage is marginally down by 1 lakh hectare, as farmers in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan shifted to coarse cereals due to delayed rains.

The deficit in paddy acreage in a week has narrowed as transplanting in largest producer West Bengal picked up following good spell of rains. The sowing of paddy in the state is now lower by 23% (y-o-y), compared with 39% fall as on August 2. The rainfall deficiency is now 27%, as against 30% on July 31. Overall acreage of paddy in the country is down by 11% as on Friday.

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