New Delhi: Amid forecast of deficit rains this month, the government today asked farmers not to panic as contingency plans are put in place to handle any adverse impact of a possible poor monsoon on kharif crops. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast rainfall in July and August to be 8% and 10% deficient, respectively.

In June, rains were 13% more than the normal. Monsoon rains are crucial as 55% of cultivable land still doesn’t come under irrigation. “So far, monsoon rains were better than expected although there is a forecast of deficit rains this year too. Farmers need not panic. We are ready with contingency plans to tackle any possible impact of poor rains on kharif crops," agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said while addressing state ministers on food inflation.

Backing up his assurance, he spoke of the government’s long history of handling a poor monsoon situation as “there is nothing to fear as of now". “There was a drought-like situation last year, and sowing area was down 2% because of 12% deficit rains. We took effective measures to bring down the damage on crops. We are prepared for this year as well. However, I feel that situation will not be that bad," he said. Hopeful of good rains in coming days, the minister said sowing of kharif (summer) crops is progressing well.

Acreage under pulses and oilseeds has so far risen sharply on account of higher support price and decent rains in June. According to government data, area sown under pulses has increased to 22.61 lakh hectares till 3 July of the kharif season, from 9.72 lakh hectares last year. Acreage of oilseeds has gone up to 74.17 lakh hectares from 14.73 lakh hectares while that of paddy is up at 54.03 lakh hectares, from 53.56 lakh hectares a year ago.

The Total area sown under kharif crops has climbed to 306.06 lakh hectares as against 194.25 lakh hectares in the period under the review, the data showed.

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