The June to September south-west monsoon plays critical role for the farmers. Rains during this period irrigate over half of the country’s crop area. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted above normal, but till 16 August has seen a 4 percent deficit compared to the 50-year mean or long period average (LPA).
After a good monsoon in June and July but dry in August and their are speculations that this August will be the driest in last eight years. The country as a whole has received 25.6 per cent less area-weighted rainfall during August 1-16 than the historical long-period average (normal) for this period. The last time August recorded comparable levels of rain deficiency was in 2009.
“Owing to good monsoons, there has been a growth in sowing pattern of almost all cereals and grains this year as compared to last year and even the year before that. But we are seeing a dry spell for the last 20 days in many parts of the country and if this continues for another 8-10 days then it will not be very good for the farmers and for the agro-chemicals industry,” said Ankur Aggrawal, Managing Director, Crystal Crop Protection.
“So it is extremely critical how the monsoons progress from here on and it remains to be seen whether the agro-chemicals industry will be able to clock 15 percent growth this year or only single digit growth. For the entire economy to benefit, the monsoons have to result in better crop yields for the farmer and better prices for their produce which will be known at the end of the kharif season,” he added.
While deficit rains may not impact overall foodgrain production, farmers in parts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka may face losses as crops like soybean, pulses, cotton and millets are facing severe moisture stress. Data from IMD shows that in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra, farm suicide hot spots, the seasonal deficit is 30 percent and 31 percent, respectively. In Kerala, and northern and southern interior Karnataka regions, the rainfall deficit is 29 percent, 21 percent and 30 percent, respectively, compared to the normal.
Data from the agriculture ministry shows that till 11 August while overall planting of kharif or monsoon crop was marginally higher compared to the year before, planting of arhar or pigeon pea, a popular pulse variety, is 19 percent lower. Planting of oilseeds such as soybean and groundnut is lower by 9 percent and 13 percent, respectively, and that of coarse grains such as jowar (sorghum) and ragi (finger millet) is lower by 12 percent and 36 percent, respectively, year on year.
According to Agriculture Ministry’s data, the total sown area as on 18th August 2017, as per reports received from States, stands at 976.34 lakh hectare as compared to 984.57 lakh hectare at this time last year.
It is reported that rice has been sown/transplanted in 341.58 lakh ha, pulses in 130.68 lakh ha, coarse cereals in 171.75 lakh ha, sugarcane in 49.78 lakh hectare and cotton in 118.14 lakh ha.
Kharif Sowing Lakh hectare
Area sown in 2017-18
Area sown in 2016-17
Jute & Mesta