Concerns over kharif paddy continued to linger as its acreage trailed by 13 per cent at 231.59 lakh hectares (lh) as of July 29 (Friday) compared with 267.05 lh during the corresponding period a year ago. This has resulted in a 2.2 per cent decline in overall sowing of kharif crops to 823.40 lh against 841.66 lh a year ago.

If paddy is excluded, the overall acreage is up by 3 per cent from the year-ago period, according to weekly data released by the Agriculture Ministry. Besides paddy, the acreage under maize, groundnut, kulthi and arhar has decreased. The government had withheld release of sowing data of paddy, cotton and sugarcane last week.

Gathering momentum

“In the past week, 59 lh got transplanted under paddy, whereas in the comparative period it was 60 lh. This shows that the pace has picked up. But it has to move up if the previous gap is to be covered, which seems unlikely at the moment mainly due to severe rainfall shortage in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” said an official.

A higher area under paddy has been reported from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. But all key rice-growing regions in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Assam have reported a fall in acreage.

Total acreage under all pulses has increased by 3 per cent at 106.18 lh from 103.23 lh. Arhar area has dropped by 13.5 per cent to 36.11 lh as farmers in key-producing States Maharashtra and Telangana have shifted to cotton. Moong has recorded a 15.7 per cent higher acreage at 29.26 lh due to better price and early onset of monsoon in Rajasthan, the top producer.

Soyabean area up

Oilseeds sowing is marginally higher at 164.34 lh from 163.03 lh a year ago. Soyabean sowing has increased by 2.5 per cent to 142.21 lh and groundnut acreage has dropped by 2.5 per cent to 37.41 lh. Initially, groundnut acreage was high, mainly in Rajasthan, where it is still higher but the gap has reduced.

The acreage of coarse cereals has increased by 5.1 per cent to 142.21 lh from 135.30 lh. Maize area, however, has declined by 5 per cent to 69.05 lh.

Cotton acreage continues to be ahead of last year mainly due to higher prices received by farmers last year. It reached 117.65 lh until Friday, 5.3 per cent higher than 111.69 lh the year-ago period. But jute and mesta sowing is marginally down to 6.91 lh from 6.94 lh and that of sugarcane a notch higher at 54.51 lh from 54.42 lh.

9% excess rainfall

Last year, 80 per cent of the normal area (1,070 lh) got covered by July end but till now this year, the total sowing has covered 76 per cent of 1,084.97 lh only. In 20201, the monsoon set in early and covered the country quickly helping early sowing. Over the past three weeks, due to the widespread distribution of rainfall, barring a few States, it has been possible to cover 36 per cent of the normal area.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted good rainfall in July in most of the States barring a few in the eastern region. The country, as a whole, has received 9 per cent above normal rainfall between June 1 and July 29. Except for the east and the north-east region, where the quantum of rainfall is very high compared to other parts, the precipitation in the southern, north-west and central regions is above normal.

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