New Delhi: The delayed arrival of the monsoon in some states and lower-than-normal rains in others has led to lower sowing of rain-fed kharif crops, according to data released by the agriculture ministry on Friday.
So far, an area of 12.5 million hectares has been planted under crops like rice, cotton, coarse grains, pulses, oilseeds and cane—nearly 24% lower than the 16.4 million hectares planted by this time last year.
The data shows that lower sowing could be due to the delayed arrival of the south-west monsoon in states like Gujarat and Rajasthan, and lower-than-normal rains in parts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
However, these are early days as kharif sowing continues till mid- to end-July, and seasonal or total area in the June-October crop season is 106.2 million hectares. 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.
Till Thursday, the monsoon deficiency was 17% for the entire country, according to the India Meteorological Department. While it rained 15% more than normal in southern states, central India recorded a deficit of 38%. East and north-east India saw a deficit of 24%, while the north-west saw 6% excess rains compared to normal.
Data released by the farm ministry shows that so far cotton has been planted in 1.9 million hectares compared to 3.5 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 1.98 million hectares so far, compared to 2.18 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 0.96 million hectares compared to 1.22 million hectares by this time last year, while coarse cereals have been planted in 1.76 million hectares, lower than the 1.82 million hectares planted by this time last year.
Based on a likely bountiful monsoon—forecast to be at 106% of the long-period average this year—the agriculture ministry has set a target of producing a record 270 million tonnes of foodgrain in 2016-17, 7% more than the 252.2 million tonnes estimated to have been produced in 2015-16.