Monsoon rainfall in the crucial month of August this year remained 24 per cent below normal, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD). However, given that crop sowing until August 27 was just 2 per cent lower than a year ago and distribution in key grain-producing regions remained good, thanks to plentiful showers earlier in the season, analysts expect a good Kharif harvest this year, even if not a better one than last year.
Pan-India precipitation was 9 per cent below the benchmark long period average (LPA) as on Tuesday, even though there was a 24 per cent deficit in August, the second-most wet month of the monsoon season (June-September) that is crucial for summer crop sowing. The deficit was 7 per cent in July while June had 10 per cent above normal rain. July and August together have 62 per cent share in 88 cm LPA for the entire season.
During the 2020-21 kharif season, the foodgrains production was 148.4 million tonnes, 3.2 per cent higher from year-ago and the country’s output during kharif season has been hitting new records every year since 2016-17. Mandi prices of 6 out of 12 major kharif crops were 8-33 per cent below their respective 2021-22 minimum support prices (MSPs) during August 1-20.
A stalled monsoon for three weeks till July 11 had adversely impacted sowing, but there was a pick-up of the activities after that. Sown areas crossed 99 per cent of the season’s normal acreage of 107.3 million hectare as on August 27 as against 97.3 per cent a week before; of course, the area under crops was still 1.8 per cent below the year-ago level.
Though the rainfall in east and north-east region was 8 per cent below normal, due to the quantitatively high level of precipitation compared with other regions, the deficit is not much of a concern for kharif sowing. Paddy acreage in country’s largest grower West Bengal was marginally higher at 3.93 million hectare as of August 27 and was progressing well to cover normal area of 4.15 million hectare under the cereal.