Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Jul 12, 2004
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Errant monsoon slows kharif sowing
Chennai , July 11
THE errant monsoon has begun to cast its shadow on kharif sowing with the decline in coverage extending to oilseeds, coarse cereals and pulses.
The coming week holds significance and if central and north-western parts of the country do not get rainfall, crop production could be affected, according to agricultural and industry experts.
Farmers, especially in the soyabean belt of Madhya Pradesh, say they have slowed down sowing on delay in monsoon.
"There is nothing to worry as of now and the sowing target remains unchanged for Madhya Pradesh. We will have to worry only if the rains don't come by July 15," said Dr G.S. Kaushal, Director, Agriculture, Madhya Pradesh.
"There has been a shower or two in the last few days and that can save the crops that have been sown," he said.
According to the solvent extract industry sources, if rains do not come in the next 10-12 days, things could be difficult. "Currently, there is nothing to worry and things are under control," they said.
According to an Agricultural Ministry statement, 30 of the 36 meteorological divisions in the country were rain deficient during the last week of June. However, the water storage position is better than last year at 24.82 billion cubic metres (BCM), up by 6.92 BCM.
Still, lack of rains during the second half of June has led to sharp drop in coverage of oilseeds in particular.
Oilseeds coverage, which was nearly double that of last year until the last week of June at over 20 lakh hectares (lh), has begun to trail. Till now, 50.60 lh have been covered as against 59.56 lh during the same period a year ago. The drop has mainly come about in soyabean, where the coverage has slid to 18.94 lh (32.04), according to the statement. Though the area under groundnut is still higher than last year (22.62 lh vs 21.74 lh), the pace has begun to slacken.
"The soyabean belt, in particular, has been rain deficient. In Madhya Pradesh alone, 17 districts have received lower rainfall this year as compared to last year," Dr Kaushal said.
Coverage of sesamum (4.67 lh vs 3.73 lh) and sunflower (3.78 lh vs 0.52 lh) is up but it is down in the case of castor at 0.43 lh (1.47 lh).
Area under pulses too is showing a downtrend at 16.04 lh (16.35 lh), though coverage of tur is a tad up at 5.48 lh (5 lh).
A similar trend has been witnessed in rice, all coarse cereals except maize, sugarcane and jute (see table). In the case of maize, the area is up mainly since Karnataka has received good rainfall under the influence of the south-west monsoon. The area under maize in that State has gone up nearly ten folds at 5.7 lh as against 0.6 lh last year.
Though area under cotton is showing a rise, coverage in Gujarat (7 lh vs 8.4 lh) and Punjab ( 5.5. lh vs 5.8 lh) has declined.
"There is one thing about which we can be happy. So far, there has been no report of major pest or insect attack," Dr Kaushal said.
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