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Scanty rainfall causes concern for kharif sowing

By Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI, JULY 15. The Union Ministry of Agriculture today reviewed the crop sowing situation in the regions where rainfall has been deficient and expressed concern at the monsoon playing truant in north-western regions. The situation is being closely monitored by the Prime Minister's Office almost on a daily basis.

The central teams which visited six States to assess the crop sowing have reported that although the situation had improved since July 9, the deficient/scanty rains in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra continued to cause concern and would have to be closely monitored.

Shortfall in kharif sowing in eastern Rajasthan, the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are particularly worrisome. The area sown under kharif paddy, pulses and coarse cereals is lower than last year. The teams, however, suggested that a second visit might be necessary towards the end of July to get a fairer picture on kharif plantations.

According to them, in Madhya Pradesh less than 50 per cent crop has been sown. The plantation so far is 42.9 lakh hectares as against 100.71 lakh hectares. Andhra Pradesh has sown 15.36 lakh hectares, as against 20.50 lakh hectares. Maharashtra has planted 84.80 lakh hectares compared to 93 lakh tonnes sown last year.

As in Madhya Pradesh, even in Rajasthan kharif sowing has been less than 50 per cent. So far, 27.81 lakh hectares have been cultivated against 58.73 lakh hectares.Haryana has planted 17 lakh hectares against 17.73 lakh hectares last year. Only Punjab has sown 32.12 lakh hectares as against 29.39 lakh hectares planted last year obviously because of the irrigated facility it has.

The teams have reported that all the States have drawn up contingency plans congruous to the plan put out by the Ministry. The availability of seeds, fertilizers and pesticide is reported to be comfortable. The seed banks are holding about 1.62 lakh tonnes of seeds.

Rajasthan has sought funds for drought relief this year, but the Centre will monitor the situation in phases till July 30 and August 15. It is believed that any shortfall in sowing will be made up by July 9 if soil moisture improves.

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