Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar stated that though delay in the south-west monsoon has affected sowing of some crops in some parts of the country, there is likelihood of the monsoon picking up in July-August and consequent pick up in kharif sowing. The sowing time for rice, pulses, oilseeds and cotton is still left and these crops can be sown once the rainfall has normalized.
Briefing the media after reviewing monsoon, water storage and crop-sowing situation in the country, the Minister said that his Ministry is in constant touch with States and the government is fully prepared to meet any rainfall situation. States have prepared contingency plans and they will ensure availability of seed of alternative crops/varieties to implement such plans in the event of further delay in monsoon rains.
The Minister informed that rice has been sown in 3.96mn hectare, which is comparable to the normal area of sowing at this time of the year but less by 0.19mn hectare than last year. As of now, there have been wide-spread rains in the north eastern and eastern States, coastal Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and this will help in increasing transplantation of rice, he said.
The wide spread deficiency of rains in central and western India has affected the sowing of coarse cereals, particularly maize, bajra and jowar. An area of 1.04mn hectare has been covered against 2.47mn hectare normal area. The Minister stated that though the delay in monsoon has affected sowing of coarse cereals in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka, it provides an opportunity to increase the area under pulses and oilseeds which are grown as contingent crops in such areas.
The total coverage under pulses so far is 0.40mn hectare which is comparable to the normal area for this week. The sowing of pulses in most of the States generally increases during the first fortnight of July.
Oilseeds have been sown in an area of 1.08mn ha against 1.25mn ha, which is the normal for this week. Major shortfall of 0.32mn ha is reported in groundnut due to less sowing in Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. On the other hand, early sowing of soybean has been reported in M.P. and Maharashtra due to good rains in some districts of West Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha region of Maharashtra which are major soybean producing areas.
About 28% sowing of cotton has been completed so far. The total area coverage is 3.11mn ha which is 0.65mn ha higher than the normal area of the week (2.46mn ha). The total coverage under sugarcane is 5.22mn ha against 4.92mn ha last year.
Out of the normal cropped area of 105.7mn ha during the entire kharif season, which includes 71.3mn ha under food grains; 17.6mn ha under oilseeds and 16.8mn ha under commercial crops (sugarcane, cotton and jute & mesta), the sowing on 14.8% area has been completed so far against 16.2 % during 2011-12. However, 2011-12 was an exceptionally good crop year, the Minister said.
The Minister also informed that the current years storage in major reservoirs in the country is 103 per cent of the normal storage, though it is 62 percent of the storage at this time last year.