Uneven distribution of rainfall this year continues to plague Indian farmers who are dependent on the southwest monsoon.
The southwest monsoon rainfall is crucial for rain-fed kharif crops as most of the planting begins with the onset of monsoon in June. More than 50 per cent of farming lands is dependent of monsoon due to lack of efficient irrigation system in India.
India as a whole has received 3 per cent lesser than normal rainfall till July 18 as per the data revealed by the Indian Metrological Department (IMD). This has led to lower planting of crops such as pulses, oilseeds, cotton and paddy, data released by the agriculture ministry on the progress of kharif sowing showed.
Area covered under kharif crops stood at 631.53 lakh hac as on July 20, which is lower by 9 per cent against last year.
Rice, which is the largest grown kharif crop, witnessed a 12.43 per cent fall in acreage compared with the previous year due to dry spells in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and West Bengal. About 156.51 lakh hac was sown for rice cultivation till July 20 against 178.73 lakh hac in the same period last year. The highest drop in acreage was seen in Bihar where most of districts are faced with a drought-like situation.
Despite a remarkable rise in minimum support prices, farmers have not shown interest in planting pulses as total acreage under pulses was reported at 82.41 lakh hac till the end of last week, lower by 17.63 per cent compared to last year. Among all pulses, largest fall in acreages was seen for Arhar and Urad as area under these two crops dropped by 10 per cent and 29 per cent year-on-year, respectively.
Likewise, total area under oil seeds has been lower by 7 per cent compared with normal due to lesser sowing for groundnut, Sunflower and Sesamum. Although, planting of soybean has gathered pace last week, acreages under soybean has increased by 10.91 per cent to 93.87 lakh hac till mid-July.
Similarly, planting of cotton was affected badly due to delayed and deficit monsoon rainfall in Gujarat. Farmers planted about 92.7 lakh hac under cotton across different states in India till end of last week compared to 104.27 lakh hac last year. Only the area under sugarcane is higher than last year. About 50.52 lakh hac have been planted under cane, marginally higher than last year’s 49.72 lakh hac.
The after-effects of these sowing figures is likely to be seen at the time of harvesting which could be delayed.
Veeresh Hiremath is the DGM of Karvy Comtrade Limited