New Delhi: Bountiful rains across the country have boosted sowing of pulses and the area under different varieties is nearly 40% more than last year, shows data released by the agriculture ministry on Friday.
So far pulses have been sown in an area of 9 million hectares, substantially higher than the 6.5 million hectares planted by this time last year. Normally, an area of 10.8 million hectares is sown with pulses every year, and this year’s planting can set a record if the rains are ample and well spread out.
Higher sowing of kharif pulses like arhar (pigeon pea) and urad (black gram) can also help tame prices which shot up over the past year due to deficit rains impacting production in 2014 and 2015.
The data shows that farmers across states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have planted more pulses compared to the year before.
The area under arhar, the main pulse variety grown during the kharif season, is 53% more than last year, the data shows. Recently, the government approached countries like Mozambique and Myanmar to arrange for arhar supplies to cool prices in the domestic market.
The government expects pulse production to come in at 20 million tonnes in 2016-17, 18% higher than the 17.06 million tonnes estimated for 2015-16. Two consecutive droughts in 2014 and 2015 reduced production of pulses, mostly grown as a rain-fed crop, by over 11% between 2013-14 and 2015-16, causing a spike in retail prices to as high as Rs.200 a kg.
Overall sowing of crops has also picked up pace with ample rains. The data released on Friday shows that kharif crops like rice, pulses, coarse grains, oilseeds, sugarcane and cotton have been planted in 69.3 million hectares so far, 3.3% higher than the 67.1 million hectares sown by this time last year.
The normal area sown under kharif crops is 106 million hectares and sowing continues till mid to end-July. India receives about 80% of its annual rainfall during the June to September south-west monsoon, which irrigates more than half of its farm land.
Data from the India Meteorological Department shows the rainfall deficit for the entire country is nil as on Friday. Central India has received 11% more rainfall compared to normal, while north-western parts have received 2% more rainfall, the data shows.
The latest data on planting shows that so far the area under the main kharif crop of rice stands at 18.3 million hectares, marginally higher than last year’s 18.2 million hectares. The seasonal area under rice is 39.3 million hectares.
However, farmers have cut down the area under cotton in states like Gujarat, Punjab and Telangana due to better prices of pulses, and damage to the cotton crop due to pest attacks last year. So far cotton has been planted in 8.7 million hectares, 13% lower than the 9.9 million hectares planted by this time last year.
Sowing of oilseeds is marginally higher at 14.9 million hectares compared with 14.3 million hectares by this time last year, the data shows.