Kharif area sown lags

by Janaki Samant

As on 9 July 2021, area sown under kharif crops reached 50 million hectares. This was 10.4 per cent lower than the 55.6 million hectares of area sown by the same time a year ago. Compared to normal area sown, actual area was 46.6 per as on 9 July. It had reached 52.5 per cent by the same time of 2020. Rainfall played truant for almost three weeks between 21 June to 11 July. But farmers continued with their sowing activities as the deficit in area sown as compared to last year narrowed from 26 per cent as on 25 June to 10.4 per cent as on 9 July. Rainfall appears to have revived from 12 July. Sustained monsoon revival is crucial for sowing activities to speed up in the coming weeks.

Progress of kharif sowing data is released by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare as on every Friday on the same day. Release of this data has become irregular during the ongoing kharif season. The release is normally issued from the first week of June. This year, the first release was as on 25 June 2021 which was released on 30 June. The release of 9 July was also delayed and released on 13 July.

During 2020, by 10 July, aided by good progress of southwest monsoon, sowing activities had raced ahead. This year, monsoon commenced on a positive note with the first three weeks of June recording satisfactory rainfall. Then, monsoon clouds stalled for more than three weeks beginning 21 June. During the week ended 7 July, Uttar Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada, Vidarbha and coastal Karnataka witnessed large shortfalls in rains. Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Saurashtra & Kutch recorded large deficient rainfall during the week ended 30 June, as well. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu fared well as rainfall was more or less satisfactory in these states throughout.

Southwest monsoon revived from 12 July onwards. It covered the entire country by 13 July 2021. This was five days after the scheduled date of 8 July. The onset over Delhi was delayed by 16 days against the normal onset date of 27 June. IMD expects rainfall to remain satisfactory in the coming weeks.

Sugarcane sowing reached 113 per cent of the normal area sown by 9 July. At 5.4 million hectares, it was 1.7 per cent higher than the area sown a year ago. Area sown expanded by 7.8 per cent in Maharashtra and by 33.5 per cent in Gujarat. Major sugarcane growing states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar recorded marginal increase in area sown whereas in Tamil Nadu it declined by 12.3 per cent.

At 12.6 million hectares, area sown under rice was lower by 8.9 per cent by 9 July 2021 compared to the area sown a year ago. So far, one-third of the normal area under rice has been cultivated. The nearly three-week break in the southwest monsoon beginning 21 June halted rice sowing. Sowing was lower in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Odisha. Area sown increased in Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Tamil Nadu.

Area sown under coarse cereals was down by 17.2 per cent to 7.3 million hectares by 9 June 2021. By the same time last year, area sown had increased by 22.5 per cent. Area under various coarse cereals such as jowar, bajra, maize and small millets was lower compared to last year.

Sowing of pulses made some progress. Area under arhar and black gram was higher compared to last year. But area under green gram was lower by 11.7 per cent. Total area under pulses was lower by 1.6 per cent by 9 July compared to the same period a year ago.

By 9 July 2021, oilseeds were sown on 11.3 million hectares compared to 12.6 million hectares sown by the same time last year. Area sown was 10.8 per cent lower. Though it is lower than last year, the pace of sowing is good as the decline comes over a 67.7 per cent increase recorded at the same time last year.

Soyabean and groundnut are the main oilseeds cultivated during the kharif season. At 8.2 million hectares, area under soyabean was lower by 11.1 per cent by 9 July compared to the area sown a year ago. Madhya Pradesh accounts for the highest share in area under soyabean cultivation. At 3.7 million hectares, around 66 per cent of the normal area was cultivated under soyabean by 9 July 2021. At the same time of 2020, 75 per cent of the area had been brought under soyabean cultivation. In Maharashtra, soyabean cultivation had made good progress with area sown down by 1.5 per cent. But in Rajasthan, soyabean cultivation had yet to pick-up as area sown was down by 50 per cent. Progress of sowing had slowed because of deficient rainfall. As per media reports, farmers were holding back sowing activities as they feared poor rains. Farmers who had sowed were a worried lot as highly deficient rainfall during the germination and seedling growth stage was likely to have an adverse impact on yield. In some areas, farmers would have to consider resowing but that would depend on availability of seeds and it would be a costly affair, too.

At 2.7 million hectares, groundnut was sown on 64 per cent of the normal area sown by 9 July. It was lower by 11.3 per cent compared to the area sown a year ago. Gujarat has the largest area under groundnut cultivation. Area sown was down by 11.4 per cent compared to last year. Area covered in Maharashtra and Karnataka also remained lower. Though soyabean cultivation had yet to gather pace, groundnut area in Rajasthan recorded an increase of 7.3 per cent by 9 July.

Cotton cultivation was lower by 17.5 per cent at 8.6 million hectares as on 9 July. Here again, the decline was over an increase of 34.9 per cent at the same time a year ago. Area sown was down across all the cotton growing states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Rainfall deficit dropped to seven per cent during the week ended 14 July compared to the deficit of 46.3 per cent in the week ended 7 July. As monsoon revives across the country, prospects for progress of sowing can be expected to improve. Higher MSP and rising market prices were a strong incentive for farmers to increase sown area under various crops. A lot depends on the sustained revival and progress of rainfall in the coming weeks.

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