New Delhi: Boosted by ample rainfall, the sowing of kharif crops has been completed in 99.3 million hectares, over 93% of the normal area planted during the season, with the sowing of pulses at a record high, according to data released by the agriculture ministry on Friday.
So far, the area sown with pulses is 39% more than what is usual by this time of the year. Higher prices of pulses have led to farmers planting different varieties like arhar (pigeon pea) and urad (black gram) in a record area of 13.6 million hectares, 25% more than the five-year average of 10.8 million hectares.
According to the agriculture ministry, the increase in area is due to higher planting in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
In the past two years, consecutive droughts have led to a dip in production and record imports, spiking prices. The agriculture ministry expects production of pulses to come in at 20 million tonnes in 2016-17, over 21% more than the 16.47 million tonnes estimated for 2015-16.
Overall, the data on sowing shows that crops like rice, coarse grains, pulses, oilseeds, sugarcane and cotton have been planted in an area of 99.3 million hectares, about 5.7% higher than the area sown by this time last year.
While rice has been sown in 34.6 million hectares so far, 3.6% higher than the 33.4 million hectares sown by this time last year, coarse grains have been sown in 18 million hectares, 7.5% higher than the 16.7 million hectares sown by this time last year.
Maize, which falls under coarse grains, has seen a 14% rise in sowing compared to normal, the data shows. Sowing of oilseeds is also higher by about 4%—from 16.8 million hectares last year to 17.5 million hectares this year.
The only major crop which has seen a drop in planting area is cotton as farmers suffered losses due to pest attacks in the past year. So far an area of 10.1 million hectares has been planted under the fibre crop, nearly 11% lower than the area normally sown by this time of the year.
The better-than-normal progress of sowing this year is due to ample rains across India. Data from state-run India Meteorological Department shows that the rainfall recorded till Friday in the ongoing south-west monsoon season is deficient by just 1% compared to normal. About 89% of India’s area has received normal to excess rainfall so far, the data shows.