Most of the key growing states — Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab — have reported lesser areas compared with last year.
After a delayed start, rabi crop sowing activity picked up pace in the last couple of weeks, while the overall area under winter-sown crops is still lower by more than 9% from the year-ago period, data released by the ministry of agriculture on Friday said.
The total area sown under rabi crops is reported at 442 lakh hectare against 486 lakh hectare reported a year ago. Last week, only 370 lakh hectare were under winter crops.
The government is aiming at increasing rabi grain production by 5% to offset an estimated 2% drop in kharif grain output; rabi sowing in the next few weeks would be crucial for the output, an agriculture ministry official said.
However, the areas under pulses — which witnessed a sharp price rise that forced the government to undertake a massive anti-hoarding drive — have almost matched the last year’s figure until Friday from the year-ago period.
While coarse cereal sowing has jumped by more than 7.6% compared with last year, wheat sowing picked up pace this week. However, wheat sowing is still lower by 16% compared with the year-ago period.
Most of the key growing states — Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab — have reported lesser areas compared with last year. Agriculture ministry officials say that the rabi sowing would continue till December end.
Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh recently stated that the 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.
“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,” Singh said.
Speaking on the drought situation on Friday, Singh said in Lok Sabha that nine states, including Maharashtra, Telangana, Odisha and Jharkhand, have been affected but the government had put in place contingency plans which has limited its impact.
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 has 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 R200 per kg last month before easing to a large extent, as the output of the pulse variety had dropped over 12% in 2014-15 from a year earlier. Even against a target of 3.67 million tonne (MT) for the kharif 2015-16, tur output stood at only 2.61 MT due to poor rains, according to the government’s first advance estimate of the farm production in 2015-16.