New Delhi: Boosted by ample rain across India, sowing of rain-fed kharif crops has been completed in 95.4 million hectares, or 90% of the normal area planted during the season, according to data released by the agriculture ministry on Friday.
Overall, farmers have planted a record area under pulses, prompted by higher prices and ample rain, but cut the area under genetically modified Bt cotton due to fear of pest attacks, the data shows.
So far, an area of 13 million hectares has been planted under different pulse varieties, nearly 20% more than the seasonal area of 10.8 million hectares, and 40% more than the area usually sown by this time every year.
Higher acreage has been recorded in major pulse growing states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the data shows.
Higher sowing of kharif pulses like arhar (pigeon pea) and urad (black gram) can help tame prices which shot up over the past year due to deficit rains impacting production in 2014 and 2015.
However, sowing of cotton is nearly 12% lower than the area normally sown under the fibre crop by this time of the year. So far, an area of 9.9 million hectares have been planted under cotton compared to the normal area of 11.2 million hectares. Lower sowing has been reported from major cotton-growing states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, where the crop bore the brunt of pest attacks last year.
The data shows that while the area under the genetically modified Bt cotton fell from 9.9 million hectares in 2015-16 to 8.2 million hectares in 2016-17, the area under non-Bt cotton or desi (indigenous) cotton rose from 0.91 million hectares to 1.7 million hectares during this period.
Rice, the main kharif crop, has been planted in 32.6 million hectares so far, 9% higher than the as-on-date normal area, while coarse grains have been planted in 17.3 million hectares, about 4% higher than the normal area, the data shows.
Sowing of oilseeds in 17.2 million hectares is also 4% higher when compared to the area normally covered 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 (IMD) shows that the rainfall recorded till Friday in the ongoing June-to-September south-west monsoon season is in excess of normal by 3%. About 93% of India has received normal to excess rainfall so far.
India receives about 80% of its annual rainfall during the south-west monsoon, which irrigates more than half of its farm land.
Deficit rains in the past two years led to protracted rural distress, besides denting production of foodgrain, especially pulses.