The extended monsoon that created havoc in south India also bettered rabi (winter cultivation) prospects in the north, especially in Uttar Pradesh (UP), the grain bowl of India.
The rain has not come as bad news for the existing kharif (summer) crop either, except for sesame seeds and some paddy crop.
UP expects to have 11 million tonnes of kharif foodgrain (rice, pulses and oil seeds) by the end of the harvesting season against the normal annual production of 16.6 million tonnes.
Large parts of UP received 50 to 240 mm rain on October 6 alone.
“We are buoyant about the incoming rabi season and the rain has spurred us to go for early sowing,” said Rohit Nandan, principal secretary, agriculture, UP. “Against the normal of 306 lakh metric tonne of rabi food grain, we’ve increased the target to 336 lakh metric tones.”
The director of agriculture, joint directors and additional directors of the department met to take stock of the situation. “Twenty to 22 degrees Celsius would be ideal for starting sowing rabi a few weeks from now,” said Nandan. “We are advancing our operation and will push seeds to farmers ten days before schedule so that sowing starts early. This would increase yield by 20 per cent.”
Nandan said because of the delayed rain only 60 to 65 per cent of the total kharif cultivation area was used while the department expected that rabi sowing would now exceed 80 per cent.
“The rain is good for both wheat and cane next season. It is also good for the rice crop in my field due for harvest post-Diwali,” said Shivendra Singh (53), who has a 10-acre farm in Ishnapur village, Lakhimpur Kheri, 122 km north of the state capital Lucknow. “At most places paddy would mature around this time. But places in this district that sowed early maturing varieties could suffer losses.”
But the losses would minimise if the sun shined brightly like it had been, Singh said.