Two-thirds of the landmass in the country received normal or excess rainfall this monsoon season, helping kharif planting to reach almost the levels of the previous kharif season. According to the kharif sowing data released by the Agriculture Ministry on Friday, plantings have covered nearly 1,010 lakh hectares (lh), compared with 1,027 lh in the corresponding period last year.

Rice is lagging

The laggard among the crops has been rice, which is down by nearly 5 per cent. Rice is transplanted on 355 lh so far, as against 372 lh last year. The shortfall was mainly because of poor sowing in Bihar, Karnataka and West Bengal.

On the other hand, there was good pick-up in pulses planting with most pulses-growing districts in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajashtan getting good rains in August. According to Met officials, the country as a whole received 15 per cent more rainfall than normal in August.

There is substantial improvement in oilseeds planting too. The increase was mainly in soyabean, which surpassed last year’s by 1 lh till this week. Good rains in Gujarat also helped increase the acreage of groundnut, even though the overall area under groundnut is still down by 2 per cent.

The one doing substantially well this year is cotton. Good market prices the crop fetched in the last season have prompted more farmers to go for cotton. Total area under cotton crop is around 125 lh, which is nearly 7 per cent more than last year’s. Market watchers say the crop has received rains at the right time and this may push up the yield by 15 to 25 per cent this year.



Pest threat to maize

Even though coarse cereals also matched the area sown last year, there is a worry that fallarmy worm infestation may hit the maize yield.

The bountiful rains have ensured that water bodies have sufficient water for the coming rabi season. According to the Central Water Commission, the 107 reservoirs that it monitors have a total of 126.63 billion cubic metres of water till Thursday, which is 11 per cent more than that in the corresponding week last year.