New Delhi: The area planted under wheat is over half a million hectares higher than the seasonal area, shows data on the progress of winter sowing released by the agriculture ministry on Friday.
So far, farmers have planted 30.96 million hectares under wheat, higher than the normal five-year average area of 30.4 million hectares.
While a dip in temperature over the past week across northern India will favour the wheat crop after a warmer December, lower sales of seeds and fertilizers—as flagged in a paper released by the NITI Aayog earlier this week—could mean poorer crop management and lower yields.
Overall, the data shows that winter crops have been planted in 61.6 million hectares, which means sowing is complete in nearly 97% of the winter crop area.
Farmers have planted winter pulses such as gram and lentils in 15.5 million hectares, over 1.5 million hectares more than the seasonal area, the data shows.
Interestingly, the increase in the area under wheat—the data shows this has come via higher planting in states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh—could have come at the cost of horticulture crops.
“Across several states we have seen farmers destroying their vegetable crops (as prices crashed following demonetisation) to plant cereal crops like wheat, but there is no data on that yet,” said Himanshu, associate professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and a Mint columnist.
Higher planting of pulses accompanies a drop of over a million hectares in area under coarse grains like jowar (sorghum) alongside a marginal dip in the area under different oilseeds.
Planting of rice so far is nearly 23% lower than the normal area planted by this time of the year, due to a poor north-east monsoon that has affected the crop in southern states like Tamil Nadu, the data shows.