Kharif planting is now 8.6% lower than a year ago, a substantial improvement from a shortfall of 26.5% a week ago, data from the agriculture ministry showed. This is because of a vast improvement in planting of pulses and oilseeds.
Monsoon rainfall has been well above average last week in its first phase of heavy rainfall this season. Cumulative rainfall since June 1 is now 12% below normal, having improved rapidly from a deficit of 33% earlier this month.
Sowing of pulses, which was down by 70% last week as compared to last year, has narrowed down the deficit to 25%. Similarly, the shortfall in oilseeds sowing has narrowed from 43% to 9.6%. The area of cotton has increased from last year by 0.02 million ha to 7.77 million ha while the sugarcane area was stagnant at 4.99 million ha.
“There has been dramatic improvement in the area under cultivation adding around 20 million ha to 41.33 million ha. The deficit is now just 4 million ha as compared to last year. We may exceed last year’s acreage next week,” said a senior agriculture department official.
Earlier in the week, agriculture secretary Sanjay Agarwal had told ET that sowing was bound to improve with monsoon gaining momentum. “I am confident that sowing area will improve and deficit will be recovered soon,” he had said.
The monsoon has revived in July after a tardy and a week-long delayed start on June 8. The rainfall deficit, which had reached 43% in mid-June, has now narrowed down to 12% initiating a recovery in crop acreage. The improved rains have also increased the water level at 91 major reservoirs to 95% of the 10-year average, showed data from the Central Water Commission. “The sowing of paddy has improved covering 9.77 million ha, down by just 1.2 million ha from last year during the same time. The sowing will further improve if rainfall improves in oilseeds and pulses growing regions of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh where the shortfall is much higher than the country’s average deficit,” said a senior agriculture department official.