Rain slows, but no major impact on sowing of crops

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A slight slowdown in monsoon rains over most of India during the week ended August 24, after intense rainfall the previous week, did not have any significant impact on the sowing of kharif crops, which is nearing its end.

Sowing of paddy (de-husked rice), which had gathered pace because of good rain, continued during the week, considerably reducing the deficit between the normal area under paddy and the current acreage.

Officials said areas under most kharif sown crops, barring pulses, coarse cereals and groundnut, are more this year as compared to the same period last year, which should help the government in meeting the targeted 245 million tonnes (mt) of grain production in 2011-12.

According to the India Meteorological Department, southwest monsoon across the country was eight per cent below normal during the week ended August 24, largely because of deficient rainfall over peninsular India.

In all of August, though, rainfall in the country has been almost eight per cent above normal till now, largely on the back of the huge downpour during August 11-17.

The met office predicted rainfall would remain slightly above normal in almost all parts of the country.

This should augur well, not only for the already planted kharif crop, but also for the coming rabi season, as late rains would provide the soil with adequate moisture.

Till Friday, the area under paddy this year is almost 11.5 per cent more than last year at 34.87 million hectares.

Paddy acreage has shown a significant rise in the last two weeks, mainly in the eastern states of Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, as well as eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Similarly, the area under oilseeds was 3.9 per cent more this year till Friday at 17.30 million hectares, mainly on the back of an almost 11 per cent rise in soybean acreage.

The area under soybean this year has risen by 459,000 hectares in Maharashtra, 340,000 hectares in Madhya Pradesh and 149,000 hectares in Rajasthan. The three states contribute little more than 90 per cent of the total soybean output.

However, among oilseeds, the biggest letdown has been in groundnut. Poor initial rains in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, two of the biggest producers, have pulled down the area.

Data from the agriculture ministry show that groundnut acreage is around 15 per cent less this year till Friday as compared to the same period last year.

“This should have some impact on the availability of domestically produced edible oils, as groundnut is one of highest oil bearing oilseeds,” a senior industry official said.

India imports more than half of its domestic edible oil requirement because of low oilseed production.

Among other crops, the area under pulses is around 11.2 per cent less this year as compared to the same period last year, while that under coarse cereals is around 6.5 per cent less. The area under sugarcane, jute and cotton is around 4.76 per cent, 8.25 per cent and 9.78 per cent more this year as compared to the same period last year.

source:  business-standard.com

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