According to data released by the agriculture ministry, area under rabi crops in India stands at 19.1 million hectares till now, down 15.9 per cent from a year ago.
The decline 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). This southwest monsoon season, India received 9 per cent below-normal rains.
Fall in water levels in key reservoirs across the country also hit the sowing progress of rabi sowing this year. The water level in 91 key reservoirs across India stands at 103.74 bcm, 64 per cent of the total capacity, according to data released by the Central Water Commission. The current water level is 1.1 per cent lower on year, and 3.4 per cent lower than the average of the last 10 years.
The area under wheat, a key rabi food grain was around 4.9 per cent lower on year at 5.16 million hectares. The acreage of rabi oilseeds was over 5.4 per cent lower on year, and that of pulses was down by 18.0 per cent, coarse cereals fell by 45.3 per cent and paddy declined by 25.2 per cent, the farm ministry data showed.
In the first advance estimate, the government has pegged India’s total kharif food grain output in 2018-19 (Jul-Jun) at a record 141.59 million tonnes, up from 140.73 million tonnes the previous year. The Centre has also fixed a target of 142.50 million tonnes for rabi food grain output this year, against production of 144.10 million tonnes the previous year.