Rabi sowing started in the country with farmers planting crops across 8.49 million hectares, down by 8.7 per cent from the same period last year.
A slow start of rabi sowing in the country can be attributed to low moisture content in the soil following weak and patchy distribution of rains during the crucial southwest monsoon season (Jun-Sep).
Acreage of rabi pulses was down by 10.3 per cent from previous year at 3.2 million hectares, and that of rabi paddy was down by 25.5 per cent at 421,000 hectares, according to the ministry data.
Among pulses, acreage of chana, lentil, field pea and urad was down. Total acreage of coarse cereals was also down by 41.8 per cent from last year at 961,000 hectares.
Area under wheat, a key rabi foodgrain was 58.5 per cent higher at 913,000 hectares. Sowing of rabi oilseeds was 1.9 per cent higher on year at 2.99 million hectares.
The government has also fixed a target of 142.50 million tonnes for rabi food grain output this year, against the production of 144.10 million tonnes in the previous year.
Area under jowar has nearly halved on year till last week due to drought in parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, the largest producers of the coarse grain.
Acreage was down by 48 per cent at 748,300 hectares, data released by the farm ministry showed. In Maharashtra, the largest grower of the coarse grain, acreage was down by 54.5 per cent, while in Karnataka, the second largest producer, sowing was down by nearly 50 per cent.
Monsoon rains in these regions were deficient this year, forcing the Maharashtra government to declare drought in 151 talukas across the state. In Karnataka as well, 23 districts have been declared drought hit.