The delayed arrival of monsoon and its tardy progress in the key rice-producing regions of the country amidst developing El Nino conditions is unlikely to have any major impact on paddy acreage during kharif season this year, rice exporters have said. Rice is the major cereal crop for the kharif season and paddy acreage as on July 7 stood at 54.12 lakh hectares (lh), down 24 per cent against 71.10 lh a year ago.

BV Krishna Rao, President, The Rice Exporters Association, said rains have just started picking up. “In June we didn’t have good rains in the South while excess rains in the North-West, where the crop will be good this time. It’s still early days in the South. This week, we had good rain. Planting has begun in some areas under canal irrigation such as the Godavari basin, while it is yet to begin under Krishna and Tungabhadra basin. Paddy transplanting will go on till August 15. The overall acreage across the country may be 5 per cent up or down.”

Normal area under paddy for the kharif cropping season across the country, as per the Agriculture Ministry is 397.06 lh, with Uttar Pradesh having the largest area at over 57.6 lh followed by West Bengal at over 41.6 lh and Chhattisgarh at 31.31 lh.

In the 2022 kharif cropping season, rice was planted in over 403 lh. Due to deficient rains in eastern parts of the country last year, the area under paddy in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar witnessed a shortfall. However, higher acreages in Telangana and Madhya Pradesh helped offset the impact.

Cumulative deficit

This year, though the South-West Monsoon has covered the entire country as on July 2, the progress has been patchy. Though rains have picked up off-late, large parts of the country are still facing a deficit on a cumulative basis. The cumulative deficit in the ongoing monsoon season (from June 1- July 7) as per the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), stood at 26 per cent in Bihar, 37 per cent in Jharkhand, 25 per cent in Odisha, 36 per cent in Telangana, 27 per cent in Maharashtra and Karnataka each, Andhra Pradesh at 19 per cent and West Bengal at 11 per cent.

However, UP and MP have a surplus rainfall of 8 per cent each, while Punjab had excess precipitation of 48 per cent and Haryana at 20 per cent. Rajasthan had 136 per cent excess rains, while Gujarat had 102 per cent surplus for the season and Tamil Nadu at 13 per cent.

Early this week, the World Meteorological Organisation said the El Nino conditions have developed in the tropical pacific for the first time in seven years and is likely to be of moderate strength.