The area under kharif paddy continues to trail last year’s coverage by 5.51 per cent until now, as per the latest sowing data from the Agriculture Ministry. Paddy acreage may end up below 405 lakh hectares (lh) at the end of the season as sowing is nearly complete and the weekly progress is marginal. Areas under pulses, oilseeds and jute/mesta are also lower this year, though key kharif oileeed soyabean has been covered as much as last year.

The total area sown under all kharif crops has declined 1.2 per cent to 1,097.57 lh as of Friday against 1,111.36 lh a year ago, the Agriculture Ministry said in its weekly update. Though the harvest will be in full swing from October after Dussehra, arrivals of some crops in mandis began last week. But, due to heavy rainfall in many parts, the harvesting may be delayed and farmers will have to make arrangement for drying the harvested crops.

Need for immediate buyer

“Heavy rains are causing serious concerns among Basmati farmers as standing crops ready for harvest are at risk. Rains have changed the scenario. Now, the paddy needs an immediate buyer who can manage to dry it immediately since State governments have no such arrangements,” said Vijay Setia, former president of All India Rice Exporters Association.

Area planted under paddy remained lower by 5.5 per cent at 401.56 lh so far this kharif season of the 2022-23 crop year (July-June), as against 425 lh in the year-ago period. Less coverage in paddy area has been reported from Jharkhand (9.32 lh), Madhya Pradesh (6.32 lh), West Bengal (3.65 lh), Uttar Pradesh (2.48 lh) and Bihar (1.97 lh), the Ministry said, adding it is marginally lower even in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Punjab.

The Ministry, in its first advance estimate, has projected 6 per cent fall in kharif rice production at 104.99 million tonnes (mt). Whereas private firm Origo Commodities has pegged it to fall by 13 per cent to 96.7 mt, mainly due to fall in acreage amid deficient rains in some parts of the country. The country had record 111.76 mt rice production during last kharif season.

Origo estimates lower output

Origo has also estimated foodgrain output to drop 7.3 per cent to 144.65 mt though it has not announced likely output in each of the segments — pulses and coarse cereals.

The private firm, which released the estimate for the first time by comparing with government’s data of last year, projects that cotton production may increase 8.5 per cent to 34.2 million bales (of 170 kg each) against 31.5 million bales in 2021-22, while soyabean output may rise 4.5 per cent at 12.48 million tonnes against 11.95 million tonnes in 2021-22.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry said pulses sowing was down marginally at 132.83 lh so far this kharif season compared with 138.29 lh in the year-ago period. Pulses including Arhar, urad, moong, kulthi are all are down.

Oilseeds acreage is down at 191.75 lh against 193.28 lh in the year-ago period, mainly due to lag in sowing of groundnut. However, the area under all coarse and nutri cereals remained higher at 181.43 lh against 174.05 lh in the year-ago period. Cotton acreage was up at 127.39 lh against 118.56 lh, while that of jute/mesta was down marginally at 6.95 lh in the said period. Sugarcane continues to be up at 55.66 lh from 55.22 lh in the year-ago period, the data show.