Kharif sowing drags despite pick up in rains; paddy worst-hit with 24% drop


Sowing of kharif crops continued to remain below last year’s levels during the week ended July 08, despite a pick-up in rains in some parts of the country with paddy posting a near 24 per cent drop in acreage over the same period last year.

Oilseeds acreage was 20.21 per cent lower than the year-ago period while the area under pulses rose a little less than one per cent.

Data shows that the overall area under kharif crops till July 08 was estimated at about 44.82 million hectares, or 9.28 per cent lower than the same period last year.

The southwest monsoon was cumulatively just 2 per cent below normal as on July 08, with most regions of the country recovering from their June deficits.

However, there were still pockets of distress.

In states like West Bengal, cumulative rainfall between June 1 and July 08, was in deficit in 15 out of the 19 districts. In Odisha 16 of the 30 districts were in deficit. Other states in deficit were Jharkhand (23 of 24 districts), Bihar (30 of 38 districts) and UP (71 of 75 districts).

Much of the deficit was due to patchy rains in the early part of the monsoon season, and unless there is strong recovery in showers over the next two months, the initial shortfall could spell trouble.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its latest update that active monsoon conditions over central India and along the west coast are likely to continue for five days starting July 08. It foresees an increase in rainfall over Northwest India on July 9-10.

This should further aid planting of oilseeds such as soybean and groundnut in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Trade sources said from here on, much of the direction that kharif sowing takes will be determined by the rains in July and August.

The good news is that weathermen are hopeful of strong July and August showers.

Mahesh Palawat, vice president, meteorology and climate change at private weather forecaster Skymet recently said there are indications that overall monsoon might remain good in July and August, because La Nina conditions are expected to prevail till August end while the impact of a negative IOD is also expected to be lower.

July and August are the two most critical months in the four-month southwest monsoon season. The amount of rain is maximum in these months.

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