The widespread rain in the country in the last seven days has improved the prospects of the standing kharif crop. The spread of rainfall has reduced the shortfall in the area under paddy, coarse cereals, oilseeds, and sugarcane and enhanced production estimates of pulses and cotton.
“Good rain in the last four days has improved the crop position. We are watchful, as the next two weeks are crucial for the standing paddy crop. Our main concern is the loss in area and production of rice,” Agriculture Commissioner N.B. Singh told journalists here on Friday. Rainfall activity in the last few days reduced monsoon deficiency to 23 per cent from 27 per cent last week.
According to him, if the rain continues, the present shortfall of 63.60 lakh hectares in paddy cultivation might get reduced to about 40 lakh hectares as standing crops will be revived and sowing is on in the southern States. The total paddy coverage so far is about 302.20 lakh hectares against 365.80 lakh hectares during the corresponding period last year.
As of now, it is estimated that the decline in paddy cultivation over the last year will result in an estimated loss of 10 million tonnes in rice output. Owing to less rainfall, the shortfall in paddy coverage in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh alone is to the tune of about 30 lakh hectares.
However, paddy productivity is expected to improve in Punjab and Haryana on account of the rain. Better yield is also expected in Orissa, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.
The shortfall in the area under oilseeds is 12.39 lakh hectares mainly in groundnut and castor owing to delay in monsoon by almost three weeks in June and deficit and scanty rain in most of the major oilseeds-growing States in July and August. The sowing period of groundnut, soyabean, sesame, sunflower and castor has been completed.
Mr. Singh said there was a shortfall in the area under coarse cereals of 3.27 lakh hectares over last year mainly because of lesser sowing of bajra. Sugarcane acreage too was lower by 1.29 lakh hectares with the yield expected to nearly match last year’s level.
On the brighter side, the area under pulses is higher this kharif by 3.75 lakh hectares over last year. The highest area coverage is in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, while the sowing is reported to be poor in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh on account of water stress.
Arhar dal (tur dal), which is selling at between Rs. 88 and Rs. 103 per kg in Delhi retail markets, has been sown in more areas than last year.
According to Mr. Singh, the losses of kharif will be made good in rabi through enhanced productivity of wheat and bringing larger areas under boro rice, oilseeds and pulses.
The government has raised the subsidy on cereal seeds from Rs. 5 to Rs. 7 per kg and on seeds of pulses and oilseeds from Rs. 12 to Rs. 20 per kg. Also, it is promoting a better quality wheat seed for next rabi that is not susceptible to wheat rust.