All eyes are now on the forthcoming rabi season, as the ongoing kharif sowing has largely come to an end. The total kharif acreage is likely to remain at around 1,000 lakh hectares (lh), as scanty rains have hit the sowing of almost all crops.

Total acreage as on September 21, stood at 990.49 lh, down 5.5 per cent over corresponding last year. Sowing of coarse cereals, sugarcane and jute has ended, while the acreage numbers continue to trickle in for rice, pulses, cotton and oilseeds.

Rice acreage, so far, is down by 17 lh over the last year at 363.76 lh, while total coarse cereal acreage is short by 25.15 lh. Pulses acreage is down by 8.47 lh at 175.93 lh, while the oilseed acreage is lower by 3.77 lh at 174.39 lh. As a result of lower acreage, kharif output this year is expected to remain lower than last year.

Plans for rabi

The late revival of monsoon has reduced the rain deficit to around 5 per cent as on September 21, against 29 per cent as of June-end. The pick-up in rains in August and September has brightened the prospects for rabi crops such as mustard, pulses and wheat. Starting Monday, officials of the agriculture department will deliberate on a strategy to boost rabi output – particularly that of oilseeds and pulses. The two-day National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign 2012 will focus on making the best use of available soil moisture.

The conference will discuss Indian Council for Agriculture Research’s crop and area specific recommendations for wheat and other winter crops. These include use of high-yielding varieties, disease control and improved agronomic practices. The issue of proper use of pesticides and taking knowledge and technology to the farmers’ fields would also be discussed.

Vishwanath.kulkarni@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 21, 2012)
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