With delayed monsoon triggering fears of crop failure and drought,the government today said the situation is not “that serious” and the production of rain-fed rice crop is unlikely to be affected as monsoon is expected to better from next week.
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said that 31 per cent deficit rainfall so far has impacted sowing of coarse cereals like maize,bajra and jowar,but situation is “not worrisome” in case of paddy — a major Kharif crops.
“Monsoon is delayed but the situation is not that serious. It is true that overall delay of monsoon is by two weeks. Up to July 2,the country has a whole has deficiency 31 per cent. But rainfall is expected to be better from next week onwards,” he told reporters here.
Briefing media about the impact of monsoon delay on the farm sector,Pawar pointed out that the sowing operations have been affected in those states where early sowing takes place such as Maharashtra,Karnataka,Madhya Pradesh,parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
“Widespread deficiency in rains in western and central India has affected coarse cereals particularly maize,bajra and jowar,” he said.
Pawar,however,said,”by and large,overall situation of rice is not worrisome”.
Asked whether rice production will decline this year,he said: “It does not look like…the sown area is more than normal. It is quiet possible that production will be good in major rice producing states like Punjab,Haryana,Andhra Pradesh,Odisha and Chhattisgarh”.
Monsoon rains are crucial for the country’s agriculture as only 40 per cent cultivable area is irrigated. On the back of good monsoon,India produced a record 252.56 million tonnes of foodgrains in the 2011-12 crop year (July to June).
Rice production stood at record 103.41 million tonnes last year,out of which 90.75 million tonnes were grown in Kharif.
Allaying fears of adverse impact of deficient monsoon on Kharif crops,Pawar said: “Sowing time of rice,pulses,oilseeds and coarse cereals is still left and can be sown once the rains are normalised”.
He said the ministry is ready with contigency plans “to tackle the situation if monsoon fails”.
He said all states have prepared contingency plans.
Pointing out the monsoon delay has affected coarse cereals,Pawar said Rajasthan,Maharasthra,Karnataka could divert to other crops.
“We feel the situation provides an opportunity to increase area under pulses and oilseeds which are grown as contingent crops in the entire country”.
There has been shortfall in groundnut sowing area especially in Andhra Pradesh,Gujarat and Karnataka,he added.
The minister,however,noted that area under commercial crops such as cotton and sugarcane has been higher.
As per the ministry’s data,rice was sown in 3.96 million hectare till July 2 against 4.15 million hectares in the same period last year. The area under coarse cereals declined to 1.04 million hectare from 2.21 in the review period.
Pulses area,too,have gone down to 0.4 million hectares so far this year from 0.61 million hectare in the year-ago period. Area under oilseeds has fallen to 1.08 million hectare from 1.3 million hectare.
On water reservoirs position,Pawar said in major reservoirs it stood at 62 per cent of storage that existed during this time of last year.
Himachal Pradesh,Maharashtra,Karnataka,Bihar,Tripura and northern West Bengal are the major states which have reported lower storage so far.
“As for Punjab and Haryana,we don’t have to worry as 94 per cent of the crop area is under irrigation,” he added.
The sowing of Kharif crops like paddy,pulses and oilseeds begins from April but gains momentum after the onset of South-West monsoon in June.