Kharif sowing fails to gather pace

by Janaki Samant

Area under kharif crops was lower by 11.6 per cent, y-o-y by 16 July 2021. At 61.2 million hectares, area under cultivation was 57 per cent of the normal area sown. At the same time last year, area sown under kharif crops was 65.1 per cent of the normal area sown. Except for arhar, sunflower seeds, sugarcane and jute & mesta, area sown under all other major kharif crops lagged the area sown at the same time last year.

Rainfall played truant for almost three weeks ending 11 July. This slowed the pace of kharif sowing. Rainfall was more than 30 per cent below the long period average (LPA) during the weeks ended 30 April and 7 July. Rains revived during the week ended 14 July when the deficit was of 7 per cent below LPA. But the revival was not uniform. States that are major producers of kharif crops such as Madhya Pradesh, East Rajasthan, Gujarat region, Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Gangetic West Bengal continued to record deficient rainfall during the week-ended 14 July. Some of these subdivisions continued to record deficient rainfall even during the week-ended 21 July, though all-India rainfall deficit narrowed to 2.7 per cent.

Area sown under rice was down by 7.2 per cent by 16 July 2021. At 16.2 million hectares, 41 per cent of the normal area under rice was cultivated by mid-July 2021. At the same time last year, 44 per cent area was cultivated by mid-July 2020. Major rice growing states such as Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar recorded lower area under rice cultivation. Area under rice cultivation in Madhya Pradesh almost doubled to 1.5 million hectares compared to the area cultivated at the same time a year ago. This is surprising as rainfall was deficient in Madhya Pradesh during two weeks ending 14 July.

During the ongoing kharif season, area sown under coarse cereals took the biggest hit. As on 16 July 2021, except for maize, area sown under other coarse cereals such as jowar (-26.7 per cent), bajra (-39.9 per cent), ragi (-60.9 per cent) and small millets (-21 per cent) trailed last year’s area sown by a significant margin. Area under maize was lower by 7.7 per cent. Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka recorded an increase of around 4-5 per cent in area sown. Rajasthan and Maharashtra, however, recorded a decline of around 25-30 per cent in area brought under maize cultivation as on 16 July.

At 9.3 million hectares, area sown under soyabean was 11.9 per cent lower by mid-July 2021 compared to the same period a year ago. Of the three major states growing soyabean, area sown in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan was lower by 18.2 per cent and 39.8 per cent, respectively. Deficient rains in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan during the first fortnight of July severely hampered the progress of sowing of soyabean. Maharashtra recorded good progress with area sown up by 0.5 per cent by 16 July 2021. Gujarat also witnessed close to 50 per cent rise in area sown whereas Karnataka saw a 14.3 per cent expansion by mid-July. According to the Soyabean Processors’ Association of India (SOPA), area under cultivation of soyabean is expected to decline in Madhya Pradesh as farmers moved to sowing other crops such as maize and pulses for various reasons such as poor rainfall besides high prices and shortage of seeds. But the association is expecting total area to rise by five per cent as it expects the fall in sown area in Madhya Pradesh to be more than made up by the increase in other states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Gujarat.

The normal acreage for cultivation of groundnut during the rabi season is 4.2 million hectares. By 16 July, groundnut was cultivated on 3 million hectares. This was 72.7 per cent of the normal area. Sown area trailed last year’s acreage at the same time by 18.6 per cent. Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Maharashtra all recorded lower area under groundnut by mid-July compared to the area sown at the same time last year.

Area sown under pulses was down by 12.1 per cent at 7.1 million hectares by 16 July 2021. Of the major pulses cultivated during the kharif season, only arhar recorded an increase in area sown. Area cultivated under green gram and black gram lagged by over 20 per cent compared to last year’s area sown at the same time. Area sown under arhar increased by 1.8 per cent as on 16 July 2021. Maharashtra recorded 1.4 per cent lower area under arhar. But the shortfall was made up by the increase in area under arhar in Karnataka where area sown expanded by 12 per cent. Madhya Pradesh and Telangana also recorded increase in area under arhar.

By 16 July 2021, area sown under cotton lagged by 12.9 per cent. Around 9.8 million hectares was sown by mid-July compared to 11.3 million hectares sown by the same time last year. Area in all the major cotton growing states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana and Haryana remained much lower compared to the progress seen at the same time last year. As monsoon revived in Vidarbha and Saurashtra & Kutch which are the major cotton growing regions of Maharashtra and Gujarat, respectively, during the week-ended 14 July, area sown under cotton is likely to pick-up.

Sugarcane sowing was nearing completion. At 5.4 million hectares, area was up by 1.7 per cent by 16 July. Area under cane cultivation expanded by 7.8 per cent in Maharashtra whereas in Gujarat in increased by 33.5 per cent. In other cane growing states such as Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar, marginal increase of less than one per cent was recorded in area under cane cultivation.

Rainfall played truant for three weeks ending 11 July 2021. It did revive thereafter but not uniformly in all parts of country. This does not bode well for kharif crop this year.

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Updated on: 20 Sep 2021 8:43AM