However, the area under pulses declines marginally by 6% until Friday
Though the rabi sowing activities have picked up pace in the last couple of weeks, overall acreage under the winter-sown crops has declined by more than 15% from a year ago period, data released by the ministry of agriculture said on Friday. The total area sown under rabi crops is reported at 370 lakh hectare till Friday against 438 lakh hectare reported a year ago.
Last week only 317 lakh hectare was under winter crops.
The government is aiming at increasing rabi grain production by 5% to offset an estimated 2% drop in kharif grain output and rabi sowing in the next few weeks would be crucial for the output, an agriculture ministry official said.
However, the area under pulses — which witnessed a sharp price rise forcing the government to undertake a massive anti-hoarding drive — has declined marginally by around 6.08% until Friday from a year before. While coarse cereal sowing has jumped by more than 8.5% compared to last year, the wheat sowing picked up pace this week. However, the wheat sowing is still less by 26% compared to a year ago period.
Most of the key growing states — Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab — have reported lesser areas compared to last year. Agriculture ministry officials say that the rabi sowing would continue till December-end.
Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh on Thursday had stated that sowing of rabi crops like wheat has been affected due to both drought and floods this year. “Agricultural crops have been affected for the third straight season due to adverse weather conditions in last 18 months,” Singh said. In 2014, kharif (summer) crops were affected due to 12% deficit rains, while rabi (winter) crops like wheat got damaged due to unseasonal rains and hailstorm.
“Due to delay in kharif harvesting because of deficient monsoon, the rabi sowing has been on a slower note,” KV Prabhu, deputy director, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) told FE.
The rabi season accounts for roughly two-thirds of the country’s annual pulse production, and any plunge in winter output can worsen price pressure in the protein-rich staple, which witnessed a double-digit rise in the Wholesale Price Index for nine months now.
Prices of tur or arhar — which is grown primarily in the kharif season — hit a record Rs 200 per kg last month before easing to a large extent, as output of the pulse variety had dropped over 12% in 2014-15 from a year earlier.