The sharp improvement in southwest monsoon in the last few weeks has vastly improved the sowing of pulses and coarse cereals and narrowed the difference with the acreage covered during the same period last year.
However, the areas under paddy — the biggest cereal grown during the kharif season — continue to be less than last year, mainly due to delayed onset of rains and also account of shift towards the more lucrative maize.
Data showed that till Friday, paddy has been planted in around 22.35 million hectares, which is around 12.5 per cent less than the area covered during the same period last year and 16.2 per cent less than the average sowing during the same period in the last five years.
West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Assam, and Odisha have seen a decline in paddy sowing.
Sowing of pulses and coarse cereals has gone up, from a shortfall of 18 per cent in the previous week to 7.55 per cent during the week ending August 2, compared to the same period last year. In case of coarse cereals, the deficit has come down from 8.86 per cent to 6.19 per cent between last week and this week.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that in between July 25-31, the southwest monsoon was 42 per cent more than normal clocking one of its best weeks in the 2019 southwest monsoon season.
North-West and Central India saw 50 per cent and 85 per cent more rainfall than the normal, respectively.
According to the IMD, the southwest monsoon is expected to maintain this positive phase for the next two weeks and rainfall in most parts of the country is expected to be normal.
So far in this season, till August 2, kharif crops have been planted in around 78.85 million hectares, which is 6.59 per cent less than the acreage during the same period last year and 5.35 per cent lower than average during the same period in the last five years.
The surge in rainfall has also boosted water levels in reservoirs to 54.25 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) up from 33 per cent, the live capacity of these reservoirs.
If IMD’s predictions hold right, August and September could see 100 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA) rainfall. The LPA for August and September is 42.83 centimeters. Both the months account for around 49 per cent of the total rainfall during the four-month southwest monsoon season that starts from June.
However, private weather forecasting agency Skymet does not believe that rains in August and September would be good enough.
Jatin Singh, the agency's Managing Director, wrote in a blog today that according to Skymet the second half of August is likely to see a slowdown in the current monsoon and, thereby, find it difficult to register over 100 per cent of LPA. The month of August holds the key for the overall fate of monsoon this season, he said.
“Even in this best possible scenario, the seasonal deficiency will stand at 5 per cent which could possibly lead to a Below Normal Monsoon in 2019,” Singh said.