The southwest monsoon has covered the entire country in the last 10 days but the crop situation remains worrisome in Karnataka and Maharashtra, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said here on Wednesday. Sowing of coarse cereals has been hit hard due to delay and slow progress of monsoon in parts of the country.

Mr. Pawar reviewed the advance of the monsoon with Minister of State for Food K.V. Thomas and India Meteorological Department Director-General L.S. Rathore.

The monsoon was deficient by 23 per cent. Karnataka and Maharashtra had received scanty rain so far and the position had not improved to a satisfactory level.

“There is a cause for concern about production of coarse cereals and drinking water in the two States. Elsewhere sowing is on in paddy, cotton and sugarcane and they are expected to pick up,” Mr. Pawar said.

Cultivation of groundnut and soyabean was expected to improve as there was good rain in parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat in the last two days.

“The only problem is in coarse cereals (maize, bajra and jowar) where 50 per cent sowing operation is over,” he said but added that planting of these crops could take place till August.

Speaking to journalists, Mr. Rathore said sowing of paddy, soyabean and groundnut would gather momentum in the coming days. “Monsoon is covering the entire country today with parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan receiving heavy rain,” he said.

With the sowing of majority kharif crops lagging in comparison with last year, Mr. Thomas later said his Ministry had moved a proposal to enhance the subsidy in imported pulses being distributed through the public distribution system. The yellow pea will be made available to Below Poverty Line population at a subsidy of Rs. 20 a kg instead of Rs. 10.

The delay in the arrival of monsoon and its slow progress have affected sowing of major kharif crops, including paddy, pulses, oilseeds and coarse cereals. The rainy season is crucial for the kharif season as only 40 per cent of cultivable area is irrigated.

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