A recovery in the area under paddy is unlikely during the current kharif season with the absolute drop in number in the cereal’s acreage remaining at last week’s level. However, the possibility of a delayed withdrawal of the monsoon and more than normal rainfall this month may help the government plan to manage the drop in rice production in the rabi season.
Paddy acreage, as of Friday (September 2), is down by 5.6 per cent at 383.99 lakh hectares (lh) during the ongoing kharif season against the corresponding period a year ago, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement releasing the weekly sowing update.
“The difference from year-ago level should have come down. But this week it remains around 23 lh as was seen until August 26. With no further scope to improve, this absolute number may not narrow down in coming days which will further widen the drop from 5.6 per cent,” said an expert. Good rainfall in August and a similar bountiful of rainfall this month will help the soil retain the required moisture for the winter crop sowing that will begin immediately after kharif harvest, he said.
Down in major regions
There has been a big drop in paddy sowing in Jharkhand – by 9.80 lh while other major growers such as Madhya Pradesh (by 6.32 lh), West Bengal (4.45 lh), Chhattisgarh (3.91 lh), Uttar Pradesh (2.61 lh) and Bihar (2.18 lh) have also reported lower area than last year’s sowing.
The government has been targetting 163.15 million tonnes (mt) of foodgrains this kharif season from an area of over 737 lh, including 112 mt of rice from 413.1 lh. Rice grown in the kharif season makes up 86 per cent of the total production during the crop year with rabi output making up the rest. Any shortfall in kharif will create scope for recovery from the winter crop in the case of paddy since it is grown on irrigated land.
Besides paddy, a marginal decline in the coverage of pulses and oilseeds has also been noticed. Pulses acreage has declined by 4.4 per cent to 129.55 lh against 135.46 lh a year ago while oilseeds area at 188.51 lh is a tad below 189.66 lh a year ago.
Tur, urad coverage down
Tur/arhar acreage has been continuously down this season. It is now 44.86 lh against 47.56 lh a year ago, while urad acreage is lagging slightly at 36.62 lh against 38.18 lh a year ago. The government has already promulgated an order asking every stockist to declare their stock position in tur. It has also started buying imported urad through Nafed for buffer stocks.
However, in the case of coarse-cum-nutri-cereals, the overall sowing is up at 178.96 lh against 171.62 lh a year ago mainly due to higher acreage under bajra and maize. Among cash crops, the cotton acreage remains higher at 125.69 lh against 117.68 lh and the area under sugarcane is slightly higher at 55.65 lh from 54.70 lh in the year-ago period. Jute/mesta area remained flat at 6.95 lakh ha so far in the ongoing kharif season, data showed.