Kharif sowing lags 5%, rice by 27%; experts hint at pickup by July

Updated on Jul 07, 2022 03:45 AM IST

Overall kharif sowing was 5% below last year’s levels as on July 1, the agriculture ministry’s latest available data show. An uneven June-September monsoon, which waters nearly 60% of the country’s net-sown area, was 8% deficient in June, despite heavy rains and deadly flooding in some states.

Overall kharif sowing was 5% below last year’s levels as on July 1, the agriculture ministry’s latest available data show.
Overall kharif sowing was 5% below last year’s levels as on July 1, the agriculture ministry’s latest available data show.
By, New Delhi

Planting of rice, the main kharif or summer-sown staple, lags last year’s levels by a wide margin, but analysts expect it to rise as the southwest monsoon, which was patchy in June, is forecast to be plentiful in July, the most critical month for sowing.

Overall kharif sowing was 5% below last year’s levels as on July 1, the agriculture ministry’s latest available data show. An uneven June-September monsoon, which waters nearly 60% of the country’s net-sown area, was 8% deficient in June, despite heavy rains and deadly flooding in some states.

On Tuesday, Union minister of food and public distribution Piyush Goyal asked states to ramp up paddy sowing at a state food ministers’ conference, citing higher international demand. He asked states to ensure output and productivity is high.

Also read: Ludhiana | 56 attend webinar on cultivation of vegetable crops at PAU

Summer crops account for half of India’s annual food output. Robust harvests are critical this year because of a global food crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Farmers have planted paddy in 4.3 million hectare, down 27% over last year’s levels so far, according to official data. This is mainly on account of slower planting in Punjab, down 8% over last year on a weekly basis (week ending July 1). Paddy sowing in Chhattisgarh, another major rice producer, was 4% lower.

“Such variations are normal. The sowing window is available for the whole of July if rainfall is good,” said Dharam Pal, a paddy scientist with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

In May, India banned private wheat exports and partially replaced wheat with rice for subsidised distribution in some states after a nearly 5% shortfall in output due to heatwaves.

Cultivators could be diverting some of the rice area to pulses, another critical commodity prone to price swings, as planting of total pulses showed an increase of 7%, according to official data. Within the lentils segment, arhar and urad sowing lagged 13% and 9% respectively over last year, the data showed.

Also read: After Enforcement Directorate nudge, Punjab begins probe into supply of crop-residual machinery

The latest data, however, indicate that summer sowing has picked pace, narrowing large deficits in mid-June, when acreage under rice decreased by 45.6% to 2 million hectare and that under coarse cereals also decreased by 38.7% to 1.2 million hectare.

Planting of coarse cereals has been robust too, higher by 2%, while oilseeds lagged 8%. India is looking for a plentiful harvest on the back of a normal-monsoon forecast, which can help cool inflation amid a global commodity-price spiral.

India’s retail inflation eased to 7.04% on an annual basis in May from 7.79% in April, while overall food inflation grew by 7.97% against 8.31% in the previous month. Overall, inflation remained above the Reserve Bank’s so-called tolerable range of 2-6%.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Zia Haq reports on public policy, economy and agriculture. Particularly interested in development economics and growth theories.

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