The advance of the southwest monsoon on Friday has brought some relief to farmers in the north-west region, but the situation in parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra remains worrisome. Sowing of kharif coarse cereals and oilseeds has been hit in these two States.

Consequently, the Centre has issued an advisory to farmers in the affected districts to make up the deficiency in sown area by going in for cultivation of pulses, particularly tur, green moong and urad.

Despite the efforts of the government to persuade farmers to shift to pulses — the hardier crop — the areas under pulses so far is 13.04 lakh hectares compared to 12.38 lakh hectares sown in the corresponding period last year.

Farm experts said that although there was delay and a break in monsoon in June, the crucial month for kharif crops is July. Monsoon has been deficient by 31 per cent in June.

An inter-ministerial meeting of the Crop and Weather Watch Group on Friday chaired by Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna noted that the area under rice this kharif was 19.72 lakh hectares lower than last year.

The area under coarse cereals too is 30.08 lakh hectares lower this season, while the cultivation of oilseeds is also lower by 10.80 lakh hectares.

The area under sugarcane, cotton and pulses is slightly better than last year.

With progress in the monsoon, sowing is going to improve, Mr. Bahuguna has said, adding that the position in Punjab and Haryana reservoirs is not so low as to affect paddy irrigation.

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