New Delhi: Even though the monsoon has picked up pace over the past week, sowing of rain-fed kharif crops is lagging behind last year’s numbers, according to data released by the agriculture ministry on Friday.
So far an area of 21.6 million hectares has been planted, nearly 23% lower than the 27.9 million hectares planted by this time last year.
The data further shows that sowing is lower for crops such as cotton and oilseeds, primarily due to deficit rain in states such as Gujarat, and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Normal area planted under kharif crops is 106 million hectares and sowing continues till mid to end July.
Though the south-west monsoon which irrigates more than half of India’s crop area is forecast to be above normal this year at 106% of the long-period average, June recorded a deficit of 11%. However, the India Meteorological Department has forecast 107% rainfall in July and 104% in August, crucial months for the kharif crop season.
India receives about 80% of its annual rainfall during the June to September south-west monsoon and deficit rains in the past two years led to protracted rural distress.
Data released by the farm ministry shows that so far cotton has been planted in about 3 million hectares, nearly half the area of 6 million hectares planted by this time last year. Lower sowing has been reported from states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Oilseeds, in which India is heavily import-dependent, have also seen lower sowing, at 2.9 million hectares so far, compared to 5.4 million hectares by this time last year. The normal area under oilseeds for the entire season is 18.3 million hectares and sowing is likely to pick up pace once the monsoon covers states like Gujarat and Rajasthan.
The area under rice, the main kharif crop, stands at 4.8 million hectares so far, marginally higher than last year’s area. The seasonal area under rice is 39.3 million hectares. Similarly, the data shows that pulses have been sown so far in 1.9 million hectares compared to 2.2 million hectares by this time last year, while coarse cereals have been planted in 3.7 million hectares, lower than the 4.4 million hectares planted by this time last year.