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Wednesday, Jul 02, 2003

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Monsoon revs up kharif sowing — Sugarcane, cotton, oilseeds acreage up

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AREA under sugarcane, cotton and oilseeds has gone up during the current kharif sowing, while it has witnessed a decline in rice and coarse cereals. At the same time, the area under jute and mesta remains unchanged.

With monsoon covering more parts of the country, the Agriculture Ministry expects the area under rice to gain momentum, while sowing is expected to be better than last season in respect of other crops.

The ministry has attributed the improved situation in sowing to "improvement in the drought-hit areas of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Orissa, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh".Area under cotton and oilseeds is particularly up in view of the good returns experienced by the farmers last year.

With monsoon arriving in the growing areas of these crops on time, it has only encouraged increased sowing, according to trade sources.

Under rice, the area covered so far is 8.6 lakh hectares (lh) against 9.8 lh during the same period last year. The normal area under kharif rice is 406 lh.

As regards coarse cereals, total coverage so far has been 4.29 lh against 6.2 lh.

The normal area under coarse cereals is 232 lh with bajra accounting for 93 lh, jowar 43 lh, maize 58 lh and others the rest.

Sowing in sugarcane is nearing completion, according to the Agriculture Ministry. Till now, 35.8 lh has been covered against 35.4 lh last year. With the advent of monsoon, some more areas are expected to be covered but the ministry is of the view that the overall coverage is likely to dip a tad. The current rise in coverage is in view of Uttar Pradesh farmers sowing the crop in 18.9 lh, 0.6 lh more than last year.

Oilseeds coverage so far has been 2.9 lh against 2.4 lh last year with sowing of groundnut, sesamum, sunflower, soyabean and castor commencing on time. Kharif oilseeds account for 65 per cent of the total area under oilseeds and 60 per cent of total oilseed production.

Sowing in cotton has also shown improvement, albeit marginally to 11.95 lh against 11.88 lh during the same period last year. Sowing has just begun in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, while it is nearing completion in Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana.

Both cotton and oilseed prices increased last year on lower output, both globally and within the country. Imports of both these commodities were also under leash, though edible oil import accounted for a higher foreign exchange outflow from the country.

Advancing monsoon has ensured that 20 of the 36 meteorological sub-divisions in the country have received excess rainfall till June 25.

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