Indian farmers have planted record areages under rabi (winter) crops such as wheat and mustard this year on improved water storage, higher residual moisture levels and a bullish trend in prices, while raising prospects of yet another bumper harvest.

Total area under rabi crops increased by 3.25 per cent to a record 720.68 lakh hectares (lh), an increase of 22.71 lh over the previous year’s 697.98 lh. When compared with the normal area of 633.80 lh for the season, the increase is to the tune of 13.71 per cent.

“Timely supply of quality seeds of high yielding varieties (HYVs), inputs, latest production technologies, credit, crop insurance, micro-irrigation and post-harvest facilities are few of such interventions taken to increase agricultural production and productivity. All these interventions have led to large increase in area under rabi crops this year,” Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.

Wheat acreage up

Area under wheat, the main cereal crop was up at 343.23 lh with States such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh among others registering an increase, while Madhya Pradesh saw a decline of 4.15 lh.

Mustard acreage rose to a record 98.02 lh with States such as Rajasthan and MP leading area expansion, while the overall oilseeds acreage increased 7.31 per cent to 109.84 lh. The mustard acreage was higher by 54.5 per cent than the normal sown area of 63.46 lh for the season.

“Major area expansion has been attained due to implementation of Special Mustard Mission for the last two years. During rabi 2022-23, 26.50 lakh seed minikits of HYV, having yield potential of more than 20 quintals per hectare, were distributed to the farmers in 301 districts of 18 States under the National Food Security Mission,” the Ministry said.

Rabi rice recorded the maximum area increase, with farmers in States like Telangana and West Bengal expanding the acreages. Among pulses, the area under gram (chana) witnessed a marginal decline, which was on expected lines, while moong bean and lentil acreages saw an increase.

Overall area under coarse cereals increased 2.08 lh to 53.49 lh, led by higher sowing of maize, barley and ragi, while jowar and bajra saw a decline.