With the southwest monsoon playing truant in parts of the country, the Centre has issued an advisory to farmers in rain-deficient States to go in for short-duration and early-maturing crops as well as early varieties of rabi crops. The worst-hit States are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Delay in the progress of the monsoon has hit sowing of kharif crops, which is lower by 82.34 lakh hectares compared to last year. The area under paddy, coarse cereals, pulses and oilseeds is reported to be lower as well.

The average storage in the 84 major reservoirs monitored by the Central Water Commission has improved from 57 per cent to 61 per cent of last year’s storage as on July 12.

However, the storage in all major dams in the country, barring in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, remains below average.

“The situation remains worrisome,” official sources said.

An inter-ministerial meeting of Crop and Weather Watch that reviewed the situation on Friday noted that the total area under paddy was lower by 23.61 lakh hectares due to delayed onset of monsoon in parts of the north-west region. Farmers in Punjab, Haryana and parts of western Uttar Pradesh have to incur higher cost of cultivation due to enhanced use of energy. In basmati-rice-sown areas, there was a greater-than-usual drawing of underground water, sources said.

The coverage of coarse cereals is lower by 34.63 lakh hectares compared to last year and has particularly been hit in Bihar, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Cultivation is expected to pick up in western Rajasthan where monsoon normally sets in by July 20, sources said.

The area under pulses has dipped by 12.29 lakh hectares owing to lower cultivation in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

Oilseeds coverage has declined by 19.27 lakh hectares so far mainly due to lower sowing in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

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