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Wheat sowing gathers pace, pulses lag, as winter advances

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With the onset of winter in many parts of north and central India, sowing of and has picked up pace.

Yet, till Friday, wheat sowing was still marginally lower than the corresponding period of last year, mainly because of a delayed harvest of the previous paddy crop.

“As the paddy gets harvested, more areas will be brought under wheat and we are hopeful of matching last year’s overall wheat acreage,” a senior government official said.

Wheat is the foodgrain sown in the most areas during rabi; the area covered till last week was 9.18 million hectares, just 4.6 per cent less than the area sown during the same period last year.

The other lag till now has been in the sowing of pulses, planted on 8.51 million hectares till last week, 7.9 per cent less than the same period last year.

There was hope that delayed withdrawal of the southwest monsoon would spur pulses sowing but that did not seem to be the case till last week.

Oilseeds have been planted on 6.12 million hectares till Friday, almost 4.6 per cent more than last year. Meanwhile, coarse cereals had been planted on 4.17 million hectares, just 0.4 per cent less than last year.

Experts believe with adequate water available in major reservoirs across the country and sufficient moisture in the soil because of the southwest monsoon’s late withdrawal, sowing of wheat will gather momentum in the coming weeks.

The worry is in pulses. After its kharif loss, the focus was on rabi pulses production.

According to the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), production of kharif pulses is expected to be 5.26 million tonnes, around 15 per cent less than last year’s.

Assuming a normal rabi pulses output of 11.5 million tonnes, total production in 2012-13 would be 17 million tonnes, about 200,00 tonnes less than last year.

“Worrying, as any small drop in pulses production leads to a significant rise in prices, Supply is already less than the demand,” another expert said.

The report said the other crops which could suffer an adverse impact from uneven rain in the monsoon season are onions, potatoes, bananas and oilseeds.

According to the Central Water Commission, the level of water in the 84 major reservoirs across the country was almost 105 billion cubic metres till Thursday, 92 per cent of the level in the corresponding period last year and 105 per cent of the 10-year average storage.

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