From Kerala floods to a rainfall deficit, the monsoon season has stunned all this year. What started off as a normal Southwest monsoon in the first three months from June to August, is now staring at a possible sharp deficit rainfall in September.
With rainfall in September being 32 per cent below normal, there are concerns that September could be the driest month in 17 years. As the southwest monsoon season enters its penultimate week, cumulative rainfall in the country stood at 760.5 mm, 10 per cent lower than the LPA. Except for the southern peninsular region, which has received near-normal rainfall, all three other regions are in the deficit zone with highest departure in east and northeast India (-24 per cent of LPA). Rainfall deficit in northwest and central India stood at 7 per cent and 6 per cent of LPA, respectively. Out of the 36 sub-meteorological regions, 23 regions have received normal rainfall, while 12 regions are in the deficit zone; only 1 region has received excess rainfall till date in the country.
Sowing activities in the kharif season which coincides with the southwest monsoon has progressed in a decent pace and the overall acreage so far is almost similar to that of last year area. Overall area under kharif crops stood at 1,057.81 lakh hectares, similar to last year area of 1051.36 lakh hectares. Under rice, cultivation is complete in 385.85 lakh hec with a gain of 2.4 per cent year-on-year or 9.55 lakh hec; higher area is reported from the states of Telangana, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Area under the essential food crops such as pulses has declined marginally by 1.1 per cent year-on-year at 137.93 lakh hec. Tur (45.83 lakh hec) area is almost similar to the previous year, while contrasting trend is seen in Urad (-9 per cent) and Moong (7.4 per cent) with a cultivation area of 40.37 lakh hec and 34.36 lakh hec, respectively.
Coming to the coarse cereals, areas under cultivation have declined by 3.9 per cent and stands at 176.16 lakh hec. Sowing is complete in 17.83 lakh hec under Jowar and is marginally lower by 0.9 per cent, while it is almost same as previous year under maize (79.23 lakh hec). Area has fallen sharply in Bajra (65.49 lakh hec) and Ragi (8.51 lakh hec) by 7.2 per cent and 18.4 per cent, respectively. In the oilseeds basket, mixed trend is seen in various oilseeds with net area being on the positive side with a gain of 3.1 per cent at 178.27 lakh hec. Sharp fall in area is noted in sunflower (1.12 lakh hec) and Nigerseed (1.69 lakh hec) where area has fallen by 18.2 per cent and 15.1 per cent, respectively. Are under soybean cultivation has increased 6.3 per cent to 112.61 lakh hec, while area under Castorseed has seen a rise of 5.1 per cent to 8.59 lakh hec. Cotton area shrank marginally by 0.9 per cent to 120.64 lakh hec, on the other hand, jute and mesta are grown in 7.02 lakh hec, down by 1 per cent. Sowing area under sugar has increased by 4.2 per cent to 51.94 lakh hec.
As the monsoon reaches its final stage, it is unlikely to fill the deficit of 10 per cent below normal. However, rainfall due to Cyclone Daye, which hit the coast of Odisha on September 21, may mildly bring down the deficiency by the end of the season.
The author is a fundamental analyst with Karvy Comtrade