The area under agriculture was 2.1 per cent higher in the 2012-13 rabi (winter) season than the coverage in normal years, according to Agriculture Ministry data.
An area of 59.2 million hectares was brought under coverage of crops such as rice, wheat, cereals, pulses and oilseeds in the 2012-13 rabi season – which starts in October – as of January 18, 2013.
Sowing under major rabi crops so far in the year is comparable with the level in the previous year. This was primarily on account of the recovery in rainfall during August-September, which helped maintain soil moisture. Even though the north-east monsoon continued to be below normal (by 21 per cent as on December 31, 2012) sowing of rabi crops was not affected as the water level in major reservoirs was satisfactory.
Higher sowing in wheat, in particular, is a good sign. But there was also a dip in the area under cultivation with rice, putting a question mark over the nation’s food security. Sowing of coarse cereals and oilseeds was also below normal, though the area under cereal and pulses cultivation was higher.