Kharif sown area remains marginally lower

by Janaki Samant

Till 17 September 2021, 110.5 million hectares was cultivated under kharif crops. This is 0.8 per cent lower than the area sown by the same time last year. It is 103 per cent of the normal area sown. Area sown under rice exceeded last year’s level, though marginally. Area sown under pulses, sugarcane and jute & mesta also exceeded last year’s area sown. Coarse cereals, oilseeds and cotton, however, trailed last year’s sown area.

Rainfall recovered in September. It was 15.1 per cent above the long period average (LPA) during the week ended 8 September and 52.9 per cent above the LPA during the week ended 15 September. Monsoon was very erratic during the preceding two months. During August, rainfall was 24 per cent below the LPA. Cumulative rainfall deficit from 1 June till end-August was 9.2 per cent below LPA. But sowing was not really stalled due to poor rains as area sown had crossed normal area for the season by 3 September.

Area sown under rice recorded a marginal increase of 0.2 per cent by 17 September compared to the same period a year ago. At 41.4 million hectares, area sown under rice was the highest ever. States like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Assam recorded expansion in area under rice cultivation. In Madhya Pradesh, area sown expanded by 18.7 per cent. This was 0.5 million hectares of additional area brought under rice cultivation. States such as West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Bihar brought lower area under rice cultivation till 17 September 2021 as compared to the same period last year.

Area sown under coarse cereals was lower by 2.3 per cent. Maize accounts for around 45 per cent of the total area covered under coarse cereals. Area under maize expanded by 1.6 per cent. But bajra, which is the second largest coarse cereal in terms of sown area, recorded 7.7 per cent lower area. Jowar also recorded a decline of 3.2 per cent in sown area.

Area under pulses expanded by 2.1 per cent to 14.1 million hectares by 17 September. Area under arhar and black gram expanded whereas that under green gram remained marginally lower compared to last year. More than 5 million hectares was brought under arhar cultivation. This is only the second instance when area under arhar exceeded 5 million hectares. Area under black gram increased by 2 per cent to 3.9 million hectares. Area increased significantly in Maharashtra and Gujarat. But, Madhya Pradesh, the state with the largest area under black gram, recorded 2.2 per cent lower area. Area under green gram was marginally lower by 0.4 per cent. Area in Rajasthan and Karnataka increased but it was lower in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

Area cultivated under soyabean was marginally higher at 12.2 million hectares till 17 September. In Madhya Pradesh, farmers moved away from soyabean as sown area was lower by 4.6 per cent. Rajasthan also recorded 3.4 per cent lower area under soyabean. But in Maharashtra area under the oilseed expanded by 6.5 per cent.

Area sown under groundnut declined by 3.6 per cent to 4.9 million hectares till 17 September. Gujarat accounts for almost 40 per cent of the area cultivated under groundnut in the country. Sown area was down by 7.5 per cent by 17 September. Less area was cultivated in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, as well. Rajasthan recorded a 6.4 per cent rise. Farmers in Madhya Pradesh brought 36.4 per cent more area under groundnut.

Area under sesamum was lower by 4.9 per cent at 1.3 million hectares by 17 September. Area under sunflower seeds increased by 23.2 per cent. Area expanded to 0.15 million hectares this year from 0.12 million hectares cultivated a year ago.

Area sown under cotton was lower by 5.8 per cent by 17 September. Cotton was sown on 12 million hectares compared to 12.7 million hectares that was cultivated at the same time in the previous year. Maharashtra and Telangana recorded a decline in area sown by 6.7 per cent and 14.3 per cent, respectively. Gujarat recorded a decline of 1.2 per cent. At the beginning of the kharif sowing season, it was expected that farmers would move towards cotton from rice, particularly in Telangana. But the erratic rainfall seems to have prompted farmers to continue with the cultivation of rice as it offers assured returns.

At 5.5 million hectares, sugarcane area increased by 1.6 per cent. Increase in area in Maharashtra and Gujarat contributed to the overall increase in sown area.