Northwest region is the worst affected

With sowing of kharif crops lagging by over 86 lakh hectares compared to last year, owing to an erratic southwest monsoon and the average water level in major reservoirs declining by 2 per cent (to 59 per cent of last year’s storage) over the previous week, the country faces a grim situation.

The area under rice, pulses, oilseeds and coarse cereals is less than what it was last year.

Earlier, the acreage under cotton was slightly higher, but has now declined as sowing has been hit in Gujarat, thanks to a weak monsoon.

The India Meteorological Department on Friday said monsoon was deficient by 22 per cent. Against a normal of 338.1 mm rain, the country had received only 263.7 mm. The worst affected was the northwest region that had received 117 mm — it should normally have got 196.1 per cent rainfall by now.

Officially, the government is holding out till the next week, hoping that the shortfall in the crop area will be made up.

“Rice sowing has declined by 10 per cent this year. But the shortfall will be covered as good rains are expected next week,” said Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna. “Rain continues to be deficient in Punjab, Haryana, parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.”

He, however, rued that more than a month delay in sowing would affect productivity.

Contingency plans had been operationalised in Karnataka and Maharashtra and would be initiated in Saurashtra, Gujarat and in western Rajasthan by July-end.

An inter-ministerial meeting of the Crop and Weather Watch Group that reviewed the situation on Friday was informed that the area under kharif rice is lower by 16.68 lakh hectares than what was last year due to lower sowing in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Assam and West Bengal.

The area under coarse cereals is lower by 31.27 lakh hectares, due to less area sown in Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

The area under pulses is lower by 18.37 lakh hectares due to lesser area sown in almost all parts of the country.

Similarly, the coverage of oilseeds is lower by 12.58 lakh hectares compared to last year due to lesser sowing in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Cotton sowing has slipped behind by 8.71 lakh hectares over last year due to lesser coverage in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Punjab and Rajasthan.

Only the area under sugarcane, at 52.81 lakh hectares, is slightly higher than what it was last year.

More In: National | News