A sharp improvement in the southwest monsoon over the past few weeks has narrowed the shortfall in kharif acreage compared to last year. Rice cultivation, however, has remained slow in major eastern states such West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha.
Senior officials in the agriculture ministry said in the coming weeks, paddy sowing will pick pace and cover the gap.
“We are confident that by the time kharif sowing ends, about 106 million hectares will be under crops,” said an official. “This is almost the same as the normal area under kharif cultivation in the past five years.” He added according to discussions with the states, farmers in several eastern ones started sowing paddy late this year.
Data furnished by the ministry showed that till August 8, paddy has been sown in about 26.52 million hectares, which is 12.81 per cent less than the area covered during the same period last year and 13.21 per cent less than the average area covered during the same period in past five years.
Overall, total kharif crops so far have been sown in around 86.95 million hectares, which is 5.35 per cent lower than the same period last year and 3.47 per cent less than the average area covered during the same period in past five years.
“Though most crops are in the growing stage and it is difficult to predict the final harvest now, even if we get average yields, that should be a good harvest this kharif season,” the official said.
The slowdown in sowing is mainly because of the delayed onset of the southwest monsoon and its slow progress in June.
However, since the middle of July, the rains have picked pace. On August 8, it was barely 1 per cent less than normal.
This is a big improvement from the 33 per cent shortfall in end-June.
Till date, of the 36 meteorological subdivisions, the southwest monsoon was normal in 23 and deficient in just eight.
The pick-up in rains has also pushed up water levels in reservoirs — now, it is 77 billion cubic meters (BCM), 99 per cent of last year’s level during the same period and 97 per cent of the average level of the past 10 years.
Govt starts registration for PM-KMY
The Centre on Friday started registration for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan-Dhan Yojana (PM-KMY), a pension scheme for farmers announced in the Union Budget. Under the PM-KMY, a monthly pension of Rs 3,000 will be provided to eligible farmers on attaining the age of 60. "Today, the PM-KMY registration process has commenced across the country. Till noon, 418 farmers have registered and I request more farmers to join the scheme," Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said.