Despite robust monsoon, summer sowing below par | india | Hindustan Times
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Despite robust monsoon, summer sowing below par

A surge in the monsoon has hastened farm operations in major food-bowl districts of the country, but sowing area of major crops – barring pulses -- has been below normal and trailing last year’s levels for this time of the year.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2015 00:58 IST
Zia Haq
Farmers-use-cows-to-thrash-paddy-after-harvesting-in-a-village-near-Assam-ahead-of-the-anticipated-monsoon-rains-AP-Photo
Farmers-use-cows-to-thrash-paddy-after-harvesting-in-a-village-near-Assam-ahead-of-the-anticipated-monsoon-rains-AP-Photo

A surge in the monsoon has hastened farm operations in major food-bowl districts of the country, but sowing area of major crops – barring pulses -- has been below normal and trailing last year’s levels for this time of the year.

The rains, unscathed so far from a prevailing El Nino weather pattern, have been 21% above normal, after a brief lull in the first week since their arrival on June 6, five days late. Despite the good rainfall, Met department officials said they weren’t making any changes to their predictions of a “deficient” monsoon.

The rains are vital as 70% of Indians depend on farm income and 60% of farms do have access to the country’s inadequate irrigation network. The monsoon replenishes 91 nationally monitored reservoirs, whose available water is around 25% of their total storage capacity, which denote normal “levels”.

Key summer crops – such as rice, lentils, soya bean, vegetables and onions, apart from cotton – have fallen behind last year’s levels.

Farmers have so far sown 9.1 million hectare as compared to 9.8 million hectare at this time last year. Rice has been sown in 083 million hectares, down from the normal area of 1.6 million for June 20-23. The area under pulses, a key crop whose support prices were increased by the government last week, stand at 0.45 million hectares, compared to the normal area of 0.34 million hectare.

Coarse cereals, a key diet in low-income rural households, drag at 0.71 million hectare, compared to a normal area during mid-June of 1.1 million hectares.

A devastating heatwave in May and a fears of poor rains seem to have taken a toll on sowing operations, but analysts say the gap is expected to close by month end, as the rainy season defies an El Nino so far.

“If monsoon continues to be good, the sowing gaps will close soon,” said Sudhir Aggarwal of Grainwell Commodities Pvt Ltd, a food trade consultant.