The predicted early onset of the monsoon is unlikely to impact kharif sowing substantially, feel analysts. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said the monsoon will enter India about a week to 10 days earlier than usual.
Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, Care Ratings, cites two reasons for the likely lack of impact of early monsoon on kharif sowing. First, the early monsoon will be felt only in Kerala and adjoining regions; it may not be so in the paddy/oilseeds growing regions and could dissipate by the time it reaches Maharashtra/ Madhya Pradesh/ Andhra Pradesh. Kerala sows rice in August and Maharashtra in July and an early rainfall will not help here. States in the north will not be impacted.
Second, the rabi harvest will get completed by mid-May or end-May and the land will generally be kept untouched for 15-30 days before the next sowing begins. In Punjab, typically, sowing is in May, but then it is not linked to the monsoon, as it is strong in irrigation, Sabnavis says.
The southwest monsoon officially begins on June 1 and ends on September 30. Around 46 per cent of foodgrain (48 per cent cereals and 29 per cent pulses) and 62 per cent of oilseeds are cultivated during the kharif season, with irrigation supporting no more than 30 per cent of the area under cultivation. Cotton, jute and sugarcane are entirely kharif crops.
Anand James, chief analyst of Geojit Comtrade, said, “Onset of early monsoon augurs well for cultivation, but is less likely to call for an expansion in sowing area, especially as prices in the last one year have not been attractive enough to warrant planting of more crops. However, cheaper seeds, good domestic demand and hope of an improvement in the export market should keep the sowing area slightly higher.”
According to a report by Care Ratings, inflation would not be affected by a normal monsoon forecast, as it does not affect the fundamentals such as supply of a product. In fact, lower production of groundnut, sugarcane, maize, etc, in 2009-10 has already lent an upward bias to their prices and overall food inflation and will not change unless supplies improve this year. However, a normal monsoon forecast would bode well for the economy in terms of curbing inflationary expectations, which would otherwise get translated into higher prices.
Much would depend on how groundnut and soybean prices fare at the time of sowing. But, paddy sowing area would surely increase, said Amol Tilak, an analyst with brokerage firm Kotak Commodities Services.
Last year, too, the IMD had forecast normal monsoon. But, the season ended with 23 per cent deficient rainfall due to failure of the southwest monsoon. This year, IMD suggests rainfall would be 98 per cent of the normal long-term average, which is 89 cm.
The rice (paddy) sowing area has declined by 7.4 per cent to 4.4 million hectares as on April 22, as compared to 4.8 million ha at the corresponding time last year, agricultural ministry sources said. The area under groundnut has increased marginally by 3.4 per cent to 1.13 million ha from 1.09 million ha. Soybean sowing has started intermittently across Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other major producing states.