Rabi sown area nears last season's all-time high level

by Janaki Samant

Rabi sowing activity is nearing completion. With sowing to continue for 2-3 weeks more, rabi acreage this year appears set to cross last year’s all-time-high area sown. By 15 January 2021, 65.2 million hectares was sown under rabi crops. This was way higher than the normal acreage of 62 million hectares for a rabi season. It was higher by 1.6 per cent compared to the area sown under rabi crops a year ago. During 2019-20, area sown under rabi crops had reached an all-time high of 66.2 million hectares, a huge year-on-year expansion of 12.3 per cent.

As on 15 January, area sown under wheat, gram and rapeseed & mustard reached an all-time high level surpassing previous highs.

Wheat was sown on 33.7 million hectares by 15 January 2021. So, this year, area sown has already crossed last rabi season’s all-time high sown area of 33.6 million hectares. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are the two states that have recorded expansion in area sown under wheat. The higher area cultivated under wheat in these 2 states more than made up for the reduction in area in the other major wheat growing states. Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Gujarat witnessed a reduction in area sown under this staple cereal.

In Madhya Pradesh, farmers have taken to sowing wheat in a big way in recent years. As per the progress of sowing data released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, in Madhya Pradesh, area sown under wheat has been expanding for three years in a row. From 5.3 million hectares during 2017-18, area under wheat increased to 6 million hectares during 2018-19 and further to 8 million hectares during 2019-20. This year, by 15 January, area cultivated under wheat increased still further to 8.8 million hectares.

In Maharashtra, area sown under wheat had dropped to 0.6 million hectares during 2018-19. In the subsequent years, it reverted back to its normal area sown of around 1 million hectares. During 2019-20, area increased to 1.07 million hectares. By 15 January 2021, 1.05 million hectares was cultivated. This is 12.2 per cent higher than the area sown a year ago.

Area covered under wheat in Rajasthan contracted by 10.4 per cent to 2.9 million hectares by 15 January 2021. Uttar Pradesh, the state with the largest area under wheat, also recorded a decline of 1.3 per cent in area sown. Punjab recorded a marginal decline. In Gujarat, area sown had expanded by over 70 per cent to 1.4 million hectares during 2019-20. This year, by 15 January, area sown had reached 1.3 million hectares.

Area cultivated under rabi rice increased by 5 per cent to 2.1 million hectares. Area sown is still at 50 per cent of the normal area sown. But this is the normal trend, as rice sowing activity commences late in some states like West Bengal. Area sown increased in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana but declined in Tamil Nadu.

Area sown under rabi coarse cereals recorded a decline of 8.2 per cent by 15 January 2021. Area cultivated under all the major rabi cereals like jowar, maize and barley contracted.

At 10.9 million hectares, area cultivated under gram as on 15 January 2021 crossed last season’s all-time high area sown of 10.7 million hectares. The increase was because of higher area cultivated in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

In Maharashtra, area under gram increased by 14.4 per cent by 15 January 2021. Area sown was at an all-time high of 2.3 million hectares. It crossed the previous all-time of high of 2.2 million hectares cultivated during 2019-20. In Gujarat, a large area was brought under gram cultivation. Sown area reached an all-time high of 0.8 million hectares by 15 January 2021. The previous high was 0.4 million hectares sown during the 2019-20 rabi season.

Madhya Pradesh, the state with the largest area under gram, recorded a six per cent fall in area sown by 15 January. Area under gram has been shrinking for three years in a row. During 2018-19, it declined by 3.3 per cent and then by 20.2 per cent during 2019-20. Farmers in Madhya Pradesh seem to be shifting towards cultivation of wheat from gram.

Among the top 5 states, Rajasthan and Karnataka also recorded a decline of 3.3 per cent and 4.2 per cent, respectively, in area sown under gram by 15 January 2021.

Rapeseed & mustard is the main oilseed cultivated during the rabi season. Sown area increased by 6.7 per cent to 7.3 million hectares as on 15 January. This is the highest ever area cultivated under the oilseed. Rajasthan has the largest area under rapeseed & mustard, accounting for around 35-40 per cent of the total area sown in the country. The state recorded a 2.8 per cent rise in area sown to 2.6 million hectares. Madhya Pradesh recorded an 11 per cent increase in area sown. States with relatively smaller area like Jharkhand, Assam and Gujarat recorded sharp expansion in area sown under the oilseed.

All other rabi oilseeds like groundnuts, linseed, sunflower seeds, safflower and sesamum recorded a decline in area sown by 15 January 2021.

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Updated on: 07 Mar 2021 8:28PM
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Updated on: 05 Mar 2021 8:23AM