New Delhi: A slower-than-normal progress of the south-west monsoon has impacted sowing of rain-fed kharif crops, shows data released by the agriculture ministry on Friday.
So far, an area of 8.4 million hectares has been sown, nearly 11% lower when compared to 9.4 million hectares sown by this time last year.
However, these are early days as the seasonal or total area under kharif crops during the June-October season is 106.2 million hectares. Kharif crops like rice, pulses, coarse cereals and cotton are planted till mid- to end-July.
Sowing is expected to pick up pace as the monsoon progresses and covers the rest of the country. Over the past week, the monsoon has not moved beyond parts of Karnataka in south-western India, although it progressed in eastern regions to cover West Bengal and parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha.
The drought-hit states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are yet to witness monsoon showers.
After two deficit rainfall years leading to a protracted drought, all eyes are on the monsoon which is forecast to be above normal this year, at 106% of the long-period average.
The south-west monsoon is critical to the kharif crop season as over half of India’s farmland lacks assured irrigation and India receives 80% of its annual rainfall during these four months.
While sub-par rainy seasons dented foodgrain production in the last two years, based on the forecast of a bountiful monsoon, the agriculture ministry has set a target of producing a record 270 million tonnes in 2016-17, 7% more than the 252.2 million tonnes estimated to have been produced in 2015-16.
Till Thursday, the monsoon was 25% deficient for the entire country, according to the India Meteorological Department. While it rained 12% more than normal in southern states, central India recorded a deficit of 46%. East and north-east India saw a deficit of 34%, while the deficit was 14% in the north-west.
Data released by the farm ministry shows that so far cotton has been planted in 1.22 million hectares compared to 1.97 million hectares by this time last year. Sugarcane has been planted so far in 4.44 million hectares, higher than the area of 4.16 million hectares last year.
The area under rice, the main kharif crop, stands at 0.92 million hectares so far, compared to 1.02 million hectares by this time last year. The seasonal area under rice is 39.3 million hectares.
Similarly, the data shows that pulses have been sown so far in 0.33 million hectares compared to 0.45 million hectares by this time last year, while coarse cereals have been planted in 0.6 million hectares, lower than the 0.7 million hectares planted by this time last year.