Truant rains affect sowing of major Kharif crops up to 50%


Sugarcane, cotton makes up to limit the drop in overall coverage to 12%

Deficient rainfall so far this monsoon season has forced farmers to delay planting in many parts of the country leading to 30 to 50 percent drop in sowing of major Kharif crops, including rice, according to data released by the Agriculture Ministry on Friday.

But a relatively better showing in sugarcane and cotton, however, limited the Kharif planting shortfall to a little more than 12 percent. The total area covered till the end of the current week was around 91 lakh hectares (lh) against 104 lh in the corresponding week of the previous Kharif season, the official data showed.

At 6.3 lh, the area under rice was 32 per cent lower than at the same time last year. Coarse cereals planting too fell short by almost a similar quantum compared to last year. Against 9.58 lh planted in the same period last year, only 7.4 lh has been covered so far.

The gap, however, is much wider for oilseeds and pulses. Oilseeds have been planted on 1.6 lh so far compared to 3.47 lh in the previous Kharif season. The area under pulses is down 50 percent compared to last year as farmers had completed planting on 1.7 lh till the end of the week.

Sugarcane cultivation, on the other hand, was close to 50 lh, tad less than 50.68 lh over the same period last year. Cotton cultivation was 18.18 lh, nearly 12 percent less than 20.68 lh last year.

Not only did the South-West monsoon set in late, but its progress has also been tardy. In the first three weeks of the four-month season, the rainfall deficit was 42 percent till June 21, according to the India Meteorological Department. The total actual rainfall was 58.8 mm against the normal of 100.5 mm.

The slow spread of the monsoon has even prompted some State governments to deter their farmers from taking up planting. Earlier this week, the Telangana government asked its farmers to delay sowing because of the rainfall shortfall.

Courtesy: The Hindu Business Line