Sowing of kharif crops is lagging behind last year’s levels, according to the latest data from the agriculture ministry as on July 1. But this is likely to change in the coming weeks, as a deficient monsoon in June has turned surplus this month.
The southwest monsoon this time arrived in Kerala almost a week late on June 8. Last month saw the country as a whole receive an area-weighted rainfall of 145.4 mm, which was 11.1 per cent below the ‘normal’ long period average (LPA) of 163.6 mm for June.
But there has been a huge turnaround in the last few days, so much so that the Met Department’s data now reveals cumulative rainfall from June 1 to July 6 at 218.2 mm, which is a surplus of 1.3 per cent over the LPA of 215.3 mm for this period.
As many as 32 out of the country’s 36 meteorological subdivisions have recorded normal to excess rainfall. Gujarat and Assam are the only two major states that have had deficient precipitation so far, while the rest of the country — including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and other areas that experienced severe drought last year — has had good rains.
All this is likely to show up in the acreage numbers within the next couple of weeks. Last year, the monsoon arrived well in time, with June, in fact, registered 15.8 per cent above-LPA rainfall. As a result, farmers went in for early sowings. But as the subsequent months recorded progressively deficient rainfall, the sown crop suffered moisture stress and yielded a disastrous harvest.
This year, the delayed onset has resulted in late plantings. But that is unlikely to affect acreages. In all probability, we are going to see a jump in area sown under all crops, barring maybe cotton and soyabean. In both these, there could be diversion to pulses and maize on the back of better expected price realisations. As of now, a bumper kharif harvest is in the offing. And if surplus rains — courtesy, a La Nina being predicted by most global weather agencies — help recharge groundwater levels, we could be looking to a good rabi crop as well.