Shortfall in sown area reduces

by Janaki Samant

By 20 August 2021, the deficit in kharif sown area narrowed to 1.6 per cent compared to the area sown a year ago. Sowing was completed on 104.4 million hectares. This was 97.3 per of the normal area sown during the kharif season. Area sown under rice, jowar, bajra, ragi, green gram, groundnut, castor, nigerseed, sesamum, and cotton continued to trail last year’s sown area.

The temporal and spatial distribution of the 2021 southwest monsoon has been highly skewed. Monsoon progressed satisfactorily during the first three weeks of June. But it hit a bad patch towards the end of June. Rainfall was 30.2 per cent below the long period average (LPA) during the week ended 30 June and 46.3 per cent below LPA in the following week. Rainfall revived from the second week of July and remained satisfactory for almost a month. But then it faltered again and was 35 per cent below the LPA during the week ended 11 August and 35.6 per cent below the LPA during the week ended 18 August. Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh recorded deficient rainfall preceded or followed by very heavy rains during the weeks of July and August.

Despite this uneven progress of monsoon, sowing has been progressing. At 37.4 million hectares, area sown under rice till 20 August was just marginally lower by 1.1 per cent, year-on-year. Telangana, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Assam recorded lower area under rice. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu recorded an expansion. In Madhya Pradesh, 3.2 million hectares was brought under rice cultivation till 20 August 2021. This was higher than last kharif season’s 2.9 million hectares. At the same time, Telangana witnessed an 11.7 per cent fall till 20 August 2021, year-on-year. The state had witnessed a 70 per cent expansion in area sown under rice during the 2020 kharif season.

Area sown under coarse cereals was down by 1.6 per cent till 20 August 2021. Maize, small millets and ragi saw an expansion in area sown. But, area sown under jowar and bajra was lower.

Sowing of pulses recorded good progress with an expansion of 1.7 per cent by 20 August. At 13.4 million hectares, it was 99 per cent of the normal area sown. The increase was mainly due to expansion in area sown under arhar. By 12 August 2021, 4.8 million hectares was brought under arhar. This was 3.9 per cent more than the area cultivated a year ago. Karnataka recorded a 13.7 per cent rise in area sown under arhar whereas Maharashtra recorded a 5.8 per cent increase. Area sown under black gram expanded in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat but it failed to pick-up in major states like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Overall area remained almost at the same level as last year by 20 August. Rajasthan accounts for more than 50 per cent of the area under green gram. By 20 August, area sown was 2.5 per cent higher than the area sown at the same time last year. It expanded in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. But area sown declined in Maharashtra and Odisha. As a result, by 20 August area sown in the country under green gram was at the same level as last year.

Oilseeds were sown on 18.8 million hectares by 20 August. This was 1.1 per cent lower than the area sown a year ago. Of the major oilseeds, soyabean and sunflower seeds recorded an increase in area sown whereas area under groundnuts, castor, sesamum and sesamum declined by 20 August, year-on-year.

Madhya Pradesh has the largest area under soyabean cultivation. By 20 August, area was down 4.2 per cent to 5.6 million hectares. This will be the third year in a row when a good harvest may elude Madhya Pradesh. In the past two years, despite an increase in sown area, erratic monsoon and pest attack had adversely hit yield and output. Maharashtra has the second largest area under soyabean. Area was up by 6.9 per cent to 4.6 million hectares. Overall sown area under soyabean increased marginally by one per cent by 20 August.

Of the major states cultivating groundnut, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu recorded a fall in area sown. But Madhya Pradesh recorded a 37.4 per cent expansion in area under the oilseed. All-India groundnut sown area was lower by 5.2 per cent.

At 11.7 million hectares, area sown under cotton was lower by 8.3 per cent by 20 August. Sown area in all the major cotton growing states such as Maharashtra, Telangana, Gujarat, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh was lower, year-on-year. Cotton area was expected to increase, particularly in Telangana, Gujarat and Haryana. Increase in minimum support price (MSP) and good export prospects were expected to encourage farmers to shift to cotton cultivation. But deficient rainfall during some weeks of July and August in the main cotton growing states seem to have dashed the prospects for a good crop.

Sugarcane sowing has ended. Area is up by 1.6 per cent to 5.5 million hectares. Most of the increase in sown area was recorded in Maharashtra and Gujarat. In keeping with the trend of the past few years, area under sugarcane cultivation in Tamil Nadu declined.

Though the sowing deficit has reduced by 20 August 2021 compared to that a year ago, the long dry spells interspersed with heavy rains does not augur well for yield and kharif output.

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Updated on: 12 Sep 2021 7:10PM