Paddy sowing takes a hit due to uneven monsoon

Updated on Jul 18, 2022 11:19 AM IST

Farmers have sown rice in nearly 12.8 million hectares, down 27% over last year for the week ending July 15, estimates for agriculture ministry suggest. The deficit in rice has enlarged from about 24% in the week ending July 8.

Sowing of rice, a key summer staple, lags considerably due to an unevenly distributed monsoon even as planting of most kharif or summer-sown crops has accelerated, latest official data show. (PTI) PREMIUM
Sowing of rice, a key summer staple, lags considerably due to an unevenly distributed monsoon even as planting of most kharif or summer-sown crops has accelerated, latest official data show. (PTI)
By, New Delhi

Sowing of rice, a key summer staple, lags considerably due to an unevenly distributed monsoon even as planting of most kharif or summer-sown crops has accelerated, latest official data show.

The June-September monsoon waters nearly 60% of India’s net-sown area, critical for robust food output. Rain has picked pace in July after an 8% deficit in June, which dragged down rice acreage.

Farmers have sown rice in nearly 12.8 million hectares, down 27% over last year for the week ending July 15, estimates for agriculture ministry suggest. The deficit in rice has enlarged from about 24% in the week ending July 8.

Most crops have to be planted by July and early August, known as the so-called sowing window, for plentiful summer harvests, which account for nearly half of India’s annual food supply.

Robust harvests are critical this year because of a global food crisis due to the Black Sea conflict. Record high food prices have triggered a global crisis this year due to the Ukraine war. “This will drive millions more into extreme poverty, magnifying hunger and malnutrition,” the World Bank has said in an update last week.

Heavy rain has lashed western and central Indian states, which augurs well for crops, but sowing operations have been thwarted by flooding in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

The annual rain-bearing monsoon continues to be deficient in some rice growing states, resulting in lagged sowing. “There’s still time. The rest of July is crucial. Rice needs to be transplanted from nurseries, requiring time,” said Rajinder Singh, a former farm department official from Haryana, a food-bowl state.

Also Read: Rainfall likely to decline in August, say experts

Cumulatively, between June 1 and July 17, the monsoon has been 13% surplus, but the rain has not been evenly distributed, which is necessary for good sowing.

In western Uttar Pradesh, rain has been 55% short, while in rice-growing Jharkhand, showers have been below-normal by 49%. Falls in Bihar, another big paddy grower, have been deficient by 45% while Gangetic West Bengal has got 45% less rainfall than what is normal between June 1 and July 17.

The area under rice lags by 2.7 million hectares with less sowing reported from Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Punjab, Assam, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Tripura for the week ended July 15.

Sowing of other summer crops, critical to keep a lid on inflation and rural prosperity, has shown a pick-up in recent weeks. At 7.2 million hectares, the area under pulses is up by nearly 6%. Farmers have sown millets in about 9 million hectares, which is an increase of 6.85%, the official data showed. At 13 million hectares, the area under oilseeds, a scarce commodity, is up 9.21%.

Rainfall in the country as a whole during July is most likely to be normal (94% to 106 % of the long period average of 280.4 mm), according to the India Meteorological Department.

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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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