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Sowing up, but scanty rain causes concern

Gargi Parsai

Steady rise in the prices of wheat, sugar and salt over last year; fruits and vegetables also costlier



  • NEW DELHI: Sowing of kharif crops has picked up in parts of the country. But there is concern over scanty rainfall in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra and in 15 districts of Tamil Nadu, 13 of Bihar, seven of Uttar Pradesh and five of Jharkhand. This has affected coverage under paddy, cotton, oilseeds and pulses.

    Delayed monsoon, followed by floods in parts, has impacted "market sentiment," resulting in a steady rise in the prices of wheat, sugar, some pulses and salt compared to last year. The prices of fruits and vegetables are also much higher.

    A high-level meeting in the Agriculture Ministry here on Monday noted that sowing for paddy was done on 90.64 lakh hectares compared to 122.32 lakh hectares during the corresponding period last year. The normal area is about 399.22 lakh hectares. The shortfall is attributed to monsoon delay.

    The coverage under cotton is 51.58 lakh hectares (59.81 lakh hectares last year). In Maharashtra, it was only 15.14 lakh hectares (24.74 lakh hectares). Of this Bt cotton accounts for 1.75 lakh hectares, it is said.

    Coarse cereals have been sown on 121.67 lakh hectares (116.51 lakh hectares). There has been an improvement in bajra sowing. The normal full area for the season, however, is 225.4 lakh hectares.

    Sowing of oilseeds has picked up — 84.30 lakh hectares, up from 43.26 lakh hectares till last week. It is still lower than the area of 100.73 lakh hectares covered till this time last year and the normal extent of 152 lakh hectares, due to the late onset of monsoon. Shortfall is reported in groundnut, soybean, sunflower, sesame and niger. Only the area under castor is higher than last year.

    The area under pulses is 32.59 lakh hectares (50.78 lakh hectares). A major shortfall is reported in moong and cowpea.

    Sugarcane has been sown on 40.85 lakh hectares (37.49 lakh hectares). The coverage under jute is 7.88 lakh hectares (7.69 lakh hectares).

    The meeting noted that the storage in 76 important reservoirs was 37.46 billion cubic metres (BCM) on July 15, against 26.51 BCM during the corresponding date last year. It took note of the Meteorological Department's forecast on extension of rain in parts of peninsular India northwards over Maharashtra and adjoining central India between July 21 and 23.

    Inter-cropping suggested

    Agriculture scientists have advised farmers in deficit regions to go for early and "very early" varieties of paddy and to increase the area under short-duration pigeon pea. They can also take up inter-cropping of sorghum and pigeon pea, cotton and soybean, soybean and pigeon pea, and pearl millet and pigeon pea.

    In Jharkhand, farmers should prefer pigeon pea, finger millet, soybean, kharif, potato, groundnut and intercropping.

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