A “break” in the south-west monsoon early in June has affected Kharif sowing in many parts of the country this year, with the overall coverage falling 10 per cent until July 8 compared with the same period a year ago.

Data released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare on Friday showed that about 500 lakh hectares (lh) have been covered so far with various Kharif crops against 558 lh a year ago.

The monsoon set in late this year on June 3 and progressed rapidly before it paused. This happened just as it was to enter the northern and western parts of the country that are key to Kharif production.

Some of the States reporting lower acreage are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat and Maharashtra, besides Bihar and Jharkhand.

The area under paddy, which saw a record production in the last two years, is down 9 per cent at 115 lh compared with last year, while oilseeds acreage, expected to be higher this year in view of good prices for soyabean, is 11 per cent lower at 113 lh.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, the coverage of paddy, compared with the normal sowing, is lower in Haryana by over 1.25 lh, Chhattisgarh by 2.18 lh and Assam by 1.37 lh.

Pulses coverage has declined 2 per cent, with over 5 lh fall in Rajasthan, while a 15.5 lh acreage drop in Rajasthan and another two lh dip in Haryana dragged coarse cereals acreage by 17 per cent to 73.07 lh.

Cotton sowing has been affected by 18 per cent lower acreage in Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, while sugarcane coverage is a tad higher.


Transplanting hit

Transplanting operations have been hit mainly in Punjab. The “break” in monsoon has also resulted in heat wave across North India, leading to surge in power consumption.

In States such as Madhya Pradesh, farmers are waiting for follow-up showers or at least 100 mm rainfall before they can start sowing, as they have bought oilseeds or pulses seeds at higher costs.

According to analysts, the comparison is with the normal sowing and, therefore, if the data were to be compared with last year’s, the decline could be even higher.

Monsoon’s “break” is the major reason for the slow progress in planting. From June 1 till now, the country has received a cumulative rainfall of 223.0 mm against the normal 234.5 mm, down 5 per cent. This is also reflected in the water storage in the 130 reservoirs across the country, being 7 per cent lower compared with last year. In a good tiding for the Centre, the IMDhas announced that the monsoon is reviving.