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Slow start to kharif crops sowing, a quarter less than year ago


Sowing of kharif crops such as paddy, pulses, oilseeds, coarse cereals and cotton has seen a slow progress the first two weeks of this month. According to agriculture ministry data on Friday, kharif crops have been sown in 14.05 million hectares (MH), around 24% less than corresponding period last year.

An agriculture ministry official, however, said that these are early days as the window for sowing of kharif crops is till the end of July. Kharif crops are sown in around 106 MH.

With the exception of sugarcane, which has been planted in 5.07 MH till now, at par with planting area in the corresponding period a year ago, sowing of paddy, pulses, oilseeds, coarse cereals and cotton has been lagging compared to last year.

Traders said that the monsoon rains in last one week in the key pulses (especially arhar and urad) growing areas such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka is expected to give a boost to sowing.

“With the monsoon rains reviving in the last one week, the kharif sowing activities have picked up pace,” an agriculture ministry official told FE. The official said that sowing would be reaching normal level by first week of July.

In April, 2022, the government had set a record foodgrain production target of 328 million tonne (MT) in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) against 314 MT of production in 2021-22, as per the third advance estimate of foodgrain output.

While stating that it is too early to assume any meaningful trend for the season, Rahul Bajoria, MD and chief India economist, Barclays, said, “We expect sowing activity to pick up in the coming weeks as rainfall spreads to most parts of the country.”

Adequate and well distributed rainfall during monsoon months (June-September) helps in boosting kharif crop production besides ensuring sufficient moisture for the rabi crops.

The monsoon has picked up pace since June 16 when deficiency in monsoon rains was 25%. During June 1-24, the cumulative average monsoon rainfall was 115.2 mm, which was 4% less than the normal volume of 119.9 mm.

Only the east & northeast and northwest regions of the country have received, more than 29% and 1% respectively, monsoon rainfall than normal volume so far. Cumulative deficiency in rain over the south peninsula and central India was reported at 15% and 31% respectively.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its forecast on Friday said “intense spell of rainfall is very likely to continue along the west coast during next four days and subdued rainfall activity over northwest and adjoining Central India till June 26th.”

On May 31, the IMD said monsoon rains this year will be more than what it had forecast in April at 103% of the benchmark long-period average (LPA), with 81% chance of rainfall being either “normal” or above.

The rains will also be well-distributed spatially across the four broad regions and most parts of the country, the agency had said. In its forecast for June, the IMD has predicted a normal rainfall in the range of 92-108 % of LPA.

Meanwhile, the average water level in 143 major reservoirs in the country at present is less by 11% on year, the Central Water Commission said. However, the level is 25% higher than the average of the last 10 years.

Reservoirs currently have 49.65 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water, which is about 28% of their combined capacity. A year ago, 55.64 BCM water was available in these reservoirs, while the average of the last 10 years is 39.83 BCM, according to the latest CWC note.




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