New Delhi: With planting of rain-fed kharif crops coming to a close, the area sowed by Indian farmers under different crops is nearly 4.4% higher while that under pulses is 37% higher compared with the average over the past five years, data released by the agriculture ministry on Friday shows.

On the back of well-distributed and ample rains during the June to September south-west monsoon, till date an area of 105.9 million—or 99.7% of the seasonal area—has been planted under kharif crops.

Higher retail prices and government’s proactive interventions—promise of robust procurement at higher support prices—have also resulted in a record sowing of pulses at 14.5 million hectares, nearly 37% more than the normal area and 29% more than the area covered last year.

Rice, the main kharif crop, has so far been planted in 38.2 million hectares , nearly 2.8% higher than the area planted by this time last year. Likewise, area under coarse cereals has gone up from 18.3 million hectares last year to 18.9 million hectares this year, a rise of 3.2%.

While sowing of different oilseeds is higher by 4% compared with the five-year average or normal area, farmers have moved away from planting cotton and sugarcane, the data shows.

While area under cotton fell by as much as 11.2% from last year, primarily due to the genetically modified Bt cotton becoming susceptible to pest attacks across major growing states, area under sugarcane fell by 7.7% compared with last year.

“This year farmers have moved away from cash crops like cotton and sugarcane and moved towards pulses, maize and oilseeds," horticulture commissioner S.K. Malhotra told a gathering of state officials at the national Rabi conference on Thursday.

After two years of drought and declining crop production, a record foodgrain production is expected in 2016-17, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Thursday.

While pulses production could touch 22 million tonnes, up 33% from last year, the upcoming rabi or winter crop is also likely to be robust due to ample water levels in major reservoirs and adequate soil moisture.

Data from the India Meteorological Department shows that, overall, the country has recorded a rainfall deficit of 5% compared to normal, but about 86% of India’s area has received normal to excess rains.