Defying Covid scare, farmers across the country have planted kharif crops in 13 per cent more area till Friday as compared to corresponding period last year.

The total area under kharif crops till now is nearly 93 lakh hectares (lh) as compared to 82 lh in the same period in 2019-20, according to data released by Agriculture Ministry.

Farmers in many parts of the country commenced kharif cultivation early this year taking advantage of increased soil moisture from higher than usual summer rains and better reservoir levels.

Even though these are early days, there is substantial increase in planting of groundnut in Rajasthan, pulses and coarse cereals in Karnataka and in sowing of early cotton variety in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan. Similarly, bajra sowing is off to a good start in Rajasthan and Haryana, even though other major bajra growing States Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are yet to start planting.

Similarly, planting of rice and sugarcane too is marginally higher than what was done in the corresponding week last year.

Also helping farmers is the early advancing of the south-west monsoon and a couple of pre-monsoon cyclones that brought in a lot of rains. Besides, water levels in reservoirs monitored by the Central Water Commission (CWC) remain much higher than that in the same period last year.

According to CWC, total live storage in 123 reservoirs on Thursday was on Thursday was 53.64 billion cubic metre (BCM) as against 31.57 BCM in the same week last year. The current year’s storage is nearly 73 per cent more than that in the same period in 2019-20, it said.

Similarly, the country as a whole received 32 per cent more pre-monsoon rains this year and aided by a low pressure monsoon is advancing well making its onset early in different parts of the country, said met department in its weekly bulletin.