Quantitatively, the country continues to be in ‘below normal’ rainfall category reporting a total deficit of 7% as far as cumulative rainfall (June 1-September 10 period) is concerned. August was the third consecutive month of rainfall deficiency, but improved acreage can be attributed to better distribution of rainfall.
Latest sowing data, released by the agriculture ministry, shows that the increase in sown area as compared to 2017 is mainly marked by higher acreage of paddy (rice) and oilseeds. Though the acreage of pulses and coarse cereals continue to be less than the last year’s corresponding sown area figures, officials believe that the acreage of these crops too will improve as farmers still have two to three weeks of sowing operation this season.
Figures show that the total sown area under kharif crops stand at 1,041.65 lakh hectares (LH) as of last Friday as compared to 1,039.57 LH during the same period last year. “It’s a good sign as sowing remained subdued in first two months of this season due to poor rains in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and most of the north-eastern states – mainly the paddy growing area,” said an official who has been tracking the development.
Since adequate acreage is crucial for good production of foodgrains, the higher sown area is seen as a positive development. “It’s important as we are looking at new record of foodgrain production in 2018-19 crop year (July-June) after reporting two consecutive years of record production in 2016-17 and 2017-18. High production boosts rural demand and this, in turn, drives overall economy,” said the official.
Though the country as a whole reported 7% deficit in cumulative rainfall, the gap in central and north-west India narrowed during the period. The highest deficiency (24% deficit) was recorded in eastern and northeastern India. The south peninsula, on the other hand, received 2% more rains than the normal, while central India and northwest India recorded deficit of 3% and 2%, respectively.
In fact, the distribution of rainfall saw most of the country’s major reservoirs receive adequate water during the period. It’ll help sowing of irrigation-backed winter crops (rabi) during November-February period, making it a good crop year in terms of overall production.