Deficient monsoon hits kharif paddy sowing

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23 July 2022, New Delhi: Kharif sowing continues to progress at a good pace but the area under paddy, as per available private data, continues to lag behind by 19 per cent for the weekend ended Friday.

The area under paddy, which was 19 per cent lower last week, continues to trail with the deficit in the acreage continuing this week too. According to iGrain, the coverage as of July 22 was 170.58 lakh hectares (lh) against 209.21 lh a year ago. 

Deficient rain impact

Fears of paddy cultivation being lower this year and in turn, affecting rice production have led to a rise in the cereal’s prices. There are also fears that rice exports could be curbed as a result. 

iGrain said if productivity remains the same as last year, then production could drop sharply. Experts said a delay in monsoon and late coverage of areas under paddy could be the reason the lower acreage. In particular, monsoon so far is 58 per cent deficient in Uttar Pradesh which is major rice-growing State, while it is 29 per cent deficient in West Bengal, the top producer, and 52 per cent in Bihar. Rainfall deficiency in Jharkhand, another large rice producer, is 17 per cent. 

Pulses coverage

In addition to some of the rice-growing States being rain deficient, a late start to the monsoon has also slowed cultivation. With Uttar Pradesh beginning to receive showers now, the situation will likely improve. Paddy farmers seldom transplant until their field is filled with ankle-deep water, while the crop’s transplantation has to be done within two weeks of being ready. There are, however, no such concerns with pulses or coarse cereals, though within the group there are problems with sowing on arhar (tur/pigeon pea) and maize (corn).

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the area under pulses is up 6.5 per cent at 90.69 lakh hectares. But the area under arhar had dropped 20 per cent to 31.09 lh. Among other important pulses, the area under blackmat pea (urad) has increased by 7.75 per cent to 22.47 lh, while moong coverage has improved by 30 per cent to almost 26 lh. The acreage of other pulses had doubled to 11 lh.Gujarat, Bihar, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh have reported lower acreage. The area under pulses crops in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are higher.

The coverage of coarse cereals has increased by 15.7 per cent to 125.66 lh. Within the group, the progress in sowing has been mixed with the area under jowar and bajra rising by 25.52 per cent and 64.8 per cent, respectively, at 9.63 lh and 50.49 lh. But the acreage of ragi has slid 62.2 per cent to 0.6 lh, while that of maize by 5.26 per cent at 62.14 lh. 

The acreage of coarse cereals is up in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where the  area has almost doubled year-on-year. The sowing has slipped in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Karnataka. 

Oilseeds’ progress

The area under oilseeds, as expected, is witnessing a rise following good prices over the last two seasons. The coverage of soyabean is up 7 per cent at 108.37 lh, but another key crop, groundnut, is trailing by 7.87 per cent at 33.29 lh. Castor acreage has increased by an impressive 71 per cent at 0.54 lh, while sunflower and sesame area has increased by  41 per cent and 8.87 per cent, respectively. 

Sugarcane acreage has been estimated at a record high this year as farmers have benefitted from exports topping 10 million tonnes and diversion of sugar for ethanol. Both these have ensured that farmers did not have to complain about dues from mills.

Also Read: China: Measures counter food security risks

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