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Rabi sowing gathers momentum — Climate congenial as temperature dips

M.R. Subramani

The area under oilseeds has increased by 20 lakh hectares.

Chennai , Dec. 18

CONGENIAL climatic conditions have developed for various crops, leading to accelerated sowing of wheat, pulses and oilseeds.

"The temperature, which was above normal until last week, is now a little below normal. This is very conducive for our crops such as wheat and gram," Mr Sunil Mukhati, a farmer in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh, told Business Line.

Day and night temperatures, especially in North India, have come down with sowing areas in Punjab, Haryana and northern Rajasthan experiencing rains earlier this week.

"Even parts of Madhya Pradesh received rains, which augurs well for oilseeds crop," Mr B.V. Mehta, Secretary-General, Solvent Extractors Association of India, said.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, night temperatures, in particular, are 2-4 degrees Celsius below normal. Lower temperatures are important for germination of crops such as wheat.

A Ministry statement said as against the normal area of 264 lakh hectares (lh) under wheat, 125 lh had been covered so far.

It is higher than 101 lh covered during the same time last year. At least 47 per cent of the normal area under wheat in Punjab has been covered.

As regards rice, the area is marginally up.

However, a slight fall in the area under coarse cereals has been reported.

"In coarse cereals, 60 lh have been covered, which is about 2 lh less than the area covered last year," the Ministry said.

An encouraging development is that the area under maize (corn) has increased by five lh.

During kharif, a record 12.5 million tonnes of maize production has been projected by the Government.

A sharp rise in maize prices is aiding increased acreage under the crop during the current rabi sowing.

In pulses, the area covered up to now is 98 lh, higher by 16 lh. Gram sowing exceeded the normal sowing area of 58 lh to 61 lh.

Compared to last year, this is higher by 15 lh.

The most encouraging report comes from oilseed growers.

The area covered under rabi oilseeds till now is 78 lh, up 20 lh over last year.

The Agriculture Ministry said the overall coverage in rapeseed and mustard was expected to be above normal this year.

The normal area under rapeseed/mustard is 52 lh and 46 lh have already been covered.

Even the area under sunflower is up, as per the Ministry statement.

Incidents of pest and insects are under control and water situation is better than last year, according to the Ministry.

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