Rice sowing in the ongoing kharif season remained 13% below the year ago level on Friday, mainly because of deficient monsoon rainfall in the key growing areas of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.
According to the agriculture ministry, rice has been sown in 23.15 million hectare (MH) against 26.7 MH reported a year ago.
A ministry official told FE that the window of rice sowing will be open for the next few days and sowing of key crops is likely to increase.
Lower areas under paddy has been reported from states including West Bengal (1.6 MH), Uttar Pradesh (0.6 MH), Bihar (0.5 MH) and Jharkhand (0.4 MH). The food ministry has recently said rice stocks with the Food Corporation of India could dip below the buffer by April 2023, if the free ration scheme is extended to the second half of the current fiscal year. Rice exports are seen to rise to a record high in the current year, given the robust global demand and dip in output in competing countries like Thailand and Vietnam. However, officials say even in that scenario, the country may not face any shortage of the staple grain.
Overall summer crops including paddy, pulses, oilseeds, coarse cereals, sugarcane and cotton have been sown in 82.34 MH so far, about 2% higher than corresponding period last year.
Kharif crops are sown in 108 MH and planting activities are expected to continue till middle of August.
The rainfall deficiency in the east and northeast region has been 16% so far, while the cumulative rainfall received in all the four regions during June 1-July 29 was 465 mm, which was 9% more than the normal benchmark of 428 mm for the same period.
Since the beginning of July, the country has received close to 19% more rainfall over the benchmark so far. While in June, cumulative rainfall was 8% less than the benchmark. Sowing of most other crops has been more than last year.
Central India. the south peninsula and northwest regions have received 21%, 28% and 4% more rainfall respectively than the normal range so far has been given boost to sowing of pulses, oilseeds and coarase cereals, sugar and cotton.
According to the official, oilseeds such as soybean, groundnut and sesamum have been higher than a year ago.
While oilseeds have been sown in 16.4 MH which is marginally higher than last year.
Soybean has been sown in 11.46 MH so far which is an increase of more than 2.5% than previous year. However, Soybean Processors Association of India stated that oilseed variety has been sown in 11.75 MH so far.
“In some districts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, soybean fields are facing water logging due to continuous rains and this may result in partial crop damage or even total loss in some areas,” according to a statement by SOPA.
Pulses have been sown in 2.8% more area than last year. Arhar, which constitutes the higher share in India’s import basket, planting has been lagging behind by more than 13% so far.
The cotton sowing has been up by more than 5% so far.
In April, 2022, the government had set a record foodgrain production target of 328 million tonne (MT) in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) against 314 MT of production in 2021-22, as per the third advance estimate of foodgrain production released in May.
Rice production target of 112 MT in the ongoing kharif season of the 2022-23 crop year (July-June).
Meanwhile, the average water level in 143 major reservoirs in the country till Thursday was 19% more than a year ago, the Central Water Commission said. The water level was also 39% higher than the average of the last 10 years.