The looming threat of drought has become more pronounced as the area planted during the current rabi season dipped further by 32 lakh hectares (lh) till this week compared with the corresponding period last year. According to the data released by the Agriculture Ministry, a total area of 355 lh has been planted so far compared with 387 lh in the same period of the previous rabi season.

A third of the shortfall is reported from Maharashtra, where at least half the talukas are reportedly water-starved, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka.

The area under coarse cereals was down 27 per cent at 29.64 lh against 40.65 lh in the same period last year. The deficit in Maharashtra is 11.05 lh and in Karnataka 1.90 lh.

In pulses, too, there was a 12 per cent drop to 101.91 lh (111.63 lh). Three major States that reported a smaller area are Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan. Gram cultivation is down by 15 per cent to 70.46 lh, according to the official data.


In the case of wheat, the fall in area under cultivation was reported from most key -growing States including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. The planting was nearly 15 per cent lower than the normal for the week, which stood at 180.21 lh. However, compared to last year, the the shortfall in planting was 2.42 per cent.

The momentum is slipping in the case of oilseeds also, even though till date it continued to be marginally higher than in the corresponding period last year. Some gain came from the mustard/rapeseed crop, which is still holding up with the planting being 4.29 per cent higher than that compared with the same week last year. The total area under oilseeds so far is 63.14 lh, which is up 0.38 per cent (62.90 lh).

The only silver lining seems to be the healthy levels of water in reservoirs. Cumulative water storage in 91 Central Water Commission monitored reservoirs stood at 98.35 billion cubic metre, 61 per cent of their total live storage capacity.