Shortfall in sowing of paddy, pulses and coarse cereals
Union Agriculture Ministry officials are keeping their fingers crossed for the southwest monsoon to revive in parts of northern and central India before putting in place a contingency plan for kharif (paddy) sowing.
So far there has been a shortfall in sowing of paddy, pulses and coarse cereals compared to last year, which was a drought year, resulting in a kharif output deficit of 12 million tonnes.
Monsoon delay beyond a week will hit sowing of paddy, soy bean, oilseeds, maize, sorghum and pulses in some parts of north India. The India Meteorological Department has forecast revival of the weakening monsoon in parts of north India by July 5 and the Ministry has decided to wait and watch till then.
According to Ministry sources, sowing has been delayed mostly in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Some pockets have been hit in Chhattisgarh and Orissa as well. Sowing will begin in Rajasthan after July 10, when monsoon is expected to set in.
“It is too early to say anything now,” Agriculture Secretary P.K. Basu told The Hindu here on Tuesday. “The important thing is that most reservoirs are full. Our main concern for now is to ensure proper fertilizer supply to farmers.”
Although the Ministry is playing down the monsoon delay, major kharif crop-growing States have been asked to be prepared with district-wise contingency plans. States where rain has been delayed have been advised to ask farmers to wait for July rains before going for plantation.
According to agriculture experts, spatial and temporal rainfall was better for crops than more rain in one spell. So far sowing has progressed well in Punjab, Haryana, parts of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Gujarat.
Till last week, paddy was sown on 24.12 lakh hectares against 27.22 lakh hectares cultivated by this time last year. The area covered under coarse cereals is 11.14 lakh hectares compared to 15.35 lakh hectares the same time last year.
Pulses have been sown on 3.07 lakh hectares as against 3.81 lakh hectares in the corresponding period last year.