Planting of rabi crops, such as wheat and mustard, gained momentum amidst the drop in temperatures across North India.

Wheat, a key winter crop, was planted in 286.38 lakh hectares, as on January 4, according to Agriculture Ministry data. The wheat acreage is about 2 per cent higher than the corresponding period last year. Farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have planted more wheat compared with last year.

The recent announcement of minimum support price (MSP) at Rs 1,350 a quintal has provided a fillip to wheat planting. The Government has set a wheat production target of 86 million tonnes in the current rabi season. Last year, wheat was planted in 290 lakh ha and the country had a record harvest of 93.9 million tonnes. Wheat planting goes on till end-January. With a couple of more weeks to go, acreage could possibly exceed last year’s acreage.

The area under rabi oilseeds has also seen a marginal increase at 80.99 lakh ha against 79.41 lakh ha last year. The acreage under rapeseed mustard stood at 66.18 lakh ha, up from last year’s 64.35 lakh ha. The Government is targeting an area of 71.41 lakh ha under mustard in the current rabi season. States such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have reported higher acreage under mustard.

Groundnut acreage has also seen a marginal rise at 4.84 lakh ha against the corresponding last year’s 4.15 lakh ha. States such as Andhra Pradesh and Odisha have reported an increase in acreage. The area under sunflower has also risen at 4.38 lakh ha against 3.76 lakh ha last year.

The total area under pulses is marginally lower at 136.05 lakh ha against 136.65 lakh ha last year. However, farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka have planted more area under gram, a key winter crop. The area under gram stood at 89.40 lakh ha against 86.37 lakh ha in corresponding last year. However, the acreage under urad dropped marginally.

The area under coarse cereals such as maize and barley has also seen a rise, while the rabi rice acreage has dropped marginally.

Vishwanath.kulkarni@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 4, 2013)
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