Late southwest monsoon rain has been good not only for the standing kharif crop but will also help the rabi crop, Agriculture Commissioner N.B. Singh said on Friday.
As a result of the rain in the past two weeks, the shortfall in kharif paddy coverage was reduced to 61.09 lakh hectares, against 6.2 lakh hectares two weeks ago. The acreage was lower than what it was last year in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. There was a slight improvement in Bihar in the past one week, Mr. Singh said here.
While the area under coarse cereals and pulses was higher this year, there was a shortfall in the acreage of sugar cane and oilseeds: the area under sugar cane was lower than last year by 1.29 lakh hectares, and the oilseeds acreage, by 12.35 lakh hectares.
The shortfall in sowing of groundnut was significant on account of the delay in the onset of the monsoon by almost three weeks in June, and the deficient and scanty rain in most of the major oilseeds growing States in July and August. There was also a slight reduction in area under soyabean, sunflower and castor seeds during this kharif.
The overall area under pulses was better this kharif in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. The sowing of pulses was poor in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which were under moisture stress. In the case of coarse cereals, there was some late sowing for fodder.
Mr. Singh said no final estimate was made of the shortfall in production due to the lower acreage of paddy, sugar cane and edible oilseeds. Some estimates would be arrived at after a review meeting with States scheduled here for next week. “We are now gearing up for rabi sowing.”
The India Meteorological Department said on Friday that the monsoon deficiency stood at 21 per cent.