New Delhi: Sowing of winter crops has been completed in 74% of the total area and overall planting is close to the normal acreage for this time of the year, shows data released by the agriculture ministry on Friday.
While planting of wheat, the main winter or rabi crop, is still lagging by 2.2% when compared to the area by this time of the year, sowing of pulses is almost 6% more and that of coarse grains nearly 5% less than normal, the data shows, amid fears that farmers had a hard time arranging seeds, fertilizers and paying wages to hired labour after the government demonetised high-value currency a month ago.
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According to the agriculture ministry, wheat has so far been planted in 22.6 million hectares, a little over 2% less than the normal area of 23 million hectares but about 11.5% more than the 20 million hectares sown by this time last year, when a widespread drought led to delayed and lower planting.
The planting numbers follow the Centre’s move to abolish the import duty on wheat on Thursday to cool retail prices amid depleting public stocks. Last year the agriculture ministry estimated a robust harvest of 93.5 million tonnes (2015-16), the accuracy of which came into question after import duties were repeatedly slashed to ensure adequate availability in the domestic market.
Overall, the data released on Friday shows that winter crops have been planted in 47.2 million hectares, nearly 74% of the seasonal area of 63.8 million hectares. Winter crops are planted between October and December and harvested March onwards.
The data shows that sowing of rice is lagging by 20% when compared to normal area due to a poor north-east monsoon in the southern states such as Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Wheat planting is lagging in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat which together reported an over 1 million hectares of lower area than what is normally sown by this time of the year, the data showed. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have reported higher than normal planting.