A pick-up in monsoon rainfall since the beginning of the month has boosted sowing of kharif crops such as rice, pulses, oilseeds and cotton, besides improving the water levels at the 91 major reservoirs across the country, reports Sandip Das in New Delhi. According to ministry of agriculture data, kharif sowing so far this season has surpassed sowing in the year-ago period by more than 3%. A fortnight earlier, the area sown had stood at around 6% less in the corresponding year-ago period. Kharif crops have been sown in more than 692 lakh hectares so far.
The water levels at the country’s large reservoirs continued to rise for a second week to 34% of their combined capacity versus 18% a fortnight earlier. The heartening part of the kharif sowing data is that pulses, whose prices have seen a sharp spike in last couple of months, have been sown in 90 lakh hectares, up 39% over the previous-year period. Analysts say that this is expected to boost pulses production to around 20 million tonnes (mt) in the 2016-17 crop year from 17 mt reported in the previous year.
Thanks to above-normal monsoon rainfall in key rice-growing areas of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, sowing of the grain has already crossed last year’s area sown. Even oilseed sowing, which was lagging behind till two weeks ago, has got a boost and the sowing is now 4% higher than a year ago.
However, because of white fly pest attack in Punjab and inadequate rains in many key growing regions of Gujarat, cotton sowing was down 12% at 86 lakh hectares.
The agriculture ministry has set the country’s grain production target at 270.10 mt for the 2016-17 crop year (July-June), up 6.7% from 2015-16.