While India's consumption story has been grim so far, the rain gods have not shown their mercy on the farmers. The showers that help drive the farm economy have been delayed by a week from the normal onset date of June 1. The southwest monsoon, which is the lifeline for the economy, has made its footprint in India on June 8, 2019, through Kerala. As the monsoon entry and its progress has been delayed, sowing activities for the Kharif season 2019 has been affected. So far, the monsoon has brought incessant rains in some parts of India and below normal rainfall in other parts. According to the information released by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the country has received 14% less rainfall while Northwest India, Central India, Southern Peninsula and East & North East India received 11%, 1%, 28% and 22% lower rainfall, respectively.
Below normal monsoon rainfall has impacted the acreage of Kharif sown crops. According to latest sowing data compiled and released by the ministry of agriculture, the area under paddy cultivation was lower by 11% Y-o-Y at 97.77 lakh hectares as on July 12, 2019 while cereals acreage was down by 6.63% Y-o-Y to 71.17 lakh hectares. Acreage under pulses cultivation was at 34.22 lakh hectares, down by 25.16% Y-o-Y; oilseeds cultivation was down by 9.67% at 75.68 lakh hectares; sugarcane acreage was at 49.98 lakh hectares, down by 3.96% and cotton was marginally up by 0.27% at 77.71 lakh hectares. If the trend continues, we will end up in lower acreage under Kharif crops, which would lead to lower crop production. If the rainfall in July and August is good as predicted by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the lower crop production can be minimised. The government has hiked the minimum support price (MSP) of 14 notified Kharif crops to encourage farmers to cover more area with Kharif crops. However, everything depends on the rainfall if the farmers have to cover more area with Kharif crops. (The author is head of research, Karvy Comtrade)