Thanks to early onset and satisfactory advance of the monsoon so far, sowing of kharif crops — rice, pulses, coarse cereals, oilseeds, sugarcane and cotton are progressing well. Areas sown of key crops except oilseeds have been higher than the level at the same time last year, with the overall sowing 8% higher. Of course, the sowing would continue till the end of next month. By this time, around 53% of the sowing is usually done — but analysts said unless the monsoon takes a break over the next two weeks, the kharif output would likely be robust. The decline in sowing of oilseeds — 10% less than in the year-ago period — is because farmers in states like Madhya Pradesh have shifted to pulses given the low price realisation in the last season for soyabean and groundnut.
Contrary to expectations, the cropping area under pulses might shrink this year following a sharp fall in prices, the area sown at 74.61 lakh hectares till Friday, which is surprisingly 24% higher than the 60.28 lakh hectares in 2016-17. The acreage under cotton too has risen sharply to 90.88 lakh hectares, up from 73.93 lakh hectares last year. Agriculture experts say the good rains together with the hike in the MSP (minimum support prices) for pulses may have motivated farmers to sow more.
The total production of pulses in 2016-17 (based on the third advance estimates) is 22.40 million tonne, up from 16.35 million tonne in 2015-16. Prices have fallen since January by about 30-35% with arhar witnessing the sharpest fall. The government procured one million tonne of arhar in 2016-17 of the total production of 4.6 million tonne. Because of normal rainfall last year, the country’s foodgrain production in the 2016-17 crop year (July-June) is estimated to reach an all-time record of 273.38 million tonne (mt), which is 8.7% more than the previous year.
Gross value added in the farm and allied sector grew an impressive 4.9% in 2016-17, against just 0.7% in the previous year, thanks to a bumper harvest after two straight years of drought. Last month, the Centre had approved increase in the minimum support price (MSP) in the range of 5-8% for the 2017-18 kharif crop. Experts say that with India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicting normal monsoon.