New Delhi: The area under plantation has increased as the sowing period for rain-fed Kharif crops nears its end, according to data released by the agriculture ministry on Friday.

So far, 85.5 million hectares have been covered under different Kharif crops, just 1.8% lower than the same period last year, but 1.4% higher than the normal, or five-year, average. As on 27 July, Kharif crop sowing was completed in 73.8 million hectares, 7.5% lower year-on-year.

Typically, Kharif crops cover about 106 million hectares at the end of the June to September period. The latest numbers show that 81% of the crop area has already been covered.

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The higher plantings over the past one week are indicative of better rainfall across the country.

Till Friday, the south-west monsoon, which irrigates more than half of India’s summer crop area was normal in 27 out of 36 meteorological subdivisions covering about 79% of the country’s area.

Overall, the monsoon has seen an 8% deficit compared to the 50-year average.

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Data from the agriculture ministry shows that planting of rice has covered more than 26.3 million hectares, which is 4.2% lower than last year, because of deficit rain in the rice-growing areas of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and the northeast.

Planting of pulses is also lower by about 3.9% and covers 11.5 million hectares.

While the area under urad cultivation witnessed a sharp fall of 11%, arhar and moong is higher by 1.2% and 2.5%, respectively.

The data further show that farmers have planted more area under oilseeds, primarily driven by 11% higher planting of soybean. Area under sugarcane is 1.5% higher, and cotton is 4% lower, year-on-year.

The latest planting numbers signifies that production of food in the 2018-19 Kharif season is unlikely to see a dip, despite the monsoon playing truant in some parts of the country.

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