Weak monsoon delays kharif sowing in India

A delayed and deficient monsoon so far has slowed summer crop sowing, with the area sown remaining nearly 8 per cent lower than in the previous year.

So far, rainfall has been almost 42 per cent less than normal across the country – its worst performance since 2014, according to the IMD.

By June 14, the monsoon should have reached central India. But this year it hasn’t even covered Karnataka properly or entered the Northeast.

According to the kharif sowing data released by the Agriculture Ministry last week, the area sown so far was 82.20 lakh hectares  compared 90.34 lakh hectares during the corresponding week in 2018-19.

Much of the planting covered by sugarcane and cotton, which were sown over 49.21 lakh hectares and 15.32 lakh hectares respectively as against 50.44 lakh hectares and 16.92 lakh hectares in the same period last year. The rice planting was 22 per cent lower than that in last year, with area covered so far being 4.26 lakh hectares. The cultivation of coarse cereals stood at 5.28 lakh hectares, 26 per cent lower than 7.13 lakh hectares covered in the corresponding week last year.

Planting of maize has taken place in 3.01 lakh hectares against 4.51 lakh hectares in corresponding period last year. The sowing of both pulses and oilseeds too just crossed 1 lakh hectare area and lagged much behind that area covered during the same period in 2018-19.

Meanwhile, water storage in major reservoirs in the country during the week plummeted by 1 per cent to 29.19 billion cubic metres, or 18 per cent of the total storage capacity. The worst affected seems to be the western region where the water storage was 10 per cent as compared to 13 per cent during the corresponding week last year.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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