Sowing of rabi or winter crops, such as pulses and oilseeds, has begun on a sluggish note.

The slow pace in sowing could be attributed to the delay in harvest of kharif crops, which were hurt by the erratic and late arrival of monsoons.

Preliminary data from the Agriculture Ministry shows that pulses have been sown on 18.79 lakh hectares against last year’s 27.23 lakh hectares for the corresponding period. The oilseeds acreage is estimated at 21.81 lakh hectares, marginally up against last year’s 20.15 lakh hectares.

The announcement of minimum support prices for rabi crops should help accelerate the acreage, as it may prompt farmers to decide on their planting strategy.

Except for wheat, the Government announced a hike in minimum support price (MSP) for oilseeds and pulses to boost the output of these commodities and reduce their import dependence.

For rapeseed/mustard, the key winter oilseed crop, the MSP has been hiked by Rs 500 to Rs 3,000 a quintal.

The MSP for safflower is fixed at Rs 2,800 for 2013-14, an increase of Rs 300 over last year’s Rs 2,500.

The MSP for gram and masur, the main pulses grown in winter, has been hiked to Rs 3,000 and Rs 2,900, respectively, for the marketing year 2013-14 starting April. In 2012-13, the MSP for these two pulses stood at Rs 2,800 a quintal each.

Vishwanath.kulkarni@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 2, 2012)
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