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Paddy acreage down 17 pc so far in kharif season: Official data

New Delhi, The area under coverage for paddy is down 17.4 per cent in the ongoing kharif sowing season due to lesser acreage in Uttar Pradesh, which has received 65 per cent less rains than normal.

However, the sowing area of pulses, coarse cereals and oilseeds are higher by 7-9 per cent.

India is one of the major importers of edible oils and an increase in oilseeds production will help in reducing the imports of cooking oils.

Data from the Ministry of Agriculture showed that as on July 15, the paddy sowing reached 128.50 Lakh Hectares (LH) this kharif season as against 155.53 LH in the corresponding period of the previous year.

Paddy acreage improved in the last one week compared to the previous week. Sowing was down 24 per cent as on July 8. The rains this month will be crucial to compensate for the fall in the acreage of paddy.

India had received 14 per cent excess rainfall than normal for the season but states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand have witnessed deficient rains. The weather office has forecast a normal monsoon this year.

The rainfall deficiency in Uttar Pradesh was 65 per cent than normal with the state receiving just 77.3 mm of rainfall as against the normal of 220 mm between June 1 and July 15. In Jharkhand, the rainfall deficiency was 49 per cent while in Bihar it was 42 per cent.

In the case of paddy, the area under coverage is less by 27.03 LH in the current kharif sowing season compared to the year-ago period.

The paddy acreage is down in Uttar Pradesh by 8.31 LH, followed by Odisha by (3.61 LH), Chhattisgarh (3.31 LH), Bihar (2.71 LH), Madhya Pradesh (2.62 LH), Telangana (2.20 LH), Jharkhand (1.91 LH) and Punjab (1.67 LH).

As per the data, the paddy acreage is lower in Assam by 0.83 LH, West Bengal (0.74 LH), Andhra Pradesh (0.57 LH), Haryana (0.53 LH), Tripura (0.51 LH), Meghalaya (0.31 LH), Gujarat (0.31 LH), Karnataka (0.17 LH), Uttarakhand (0.05 LH), Kerala (0.03 LH), Mizoram (0.03 LH) and Goa (0.02 LH).

Higher paddy acreage has been reported from Maharashtra by 1.02 LH, followed by Rajasthan 0.75 LH, Manipur (0.30 LH), Nagaland (0.29 LH), Arunachal Pradesh (0.24 LH), J&K (0.13 LH), Tamil Nadu (0.13 LH) and Himachal Pradesh (0.12 LH).

India is one of the major exporter of basmati as well as non-basmati rice. The exports of rice increased to USD 2.7 billion during April-June 2022 from USD 2.4 billion in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year.

Vijay Setia, former President of All India Rice Exporters Association, said the shortfall in paddy will be covered over the next one month. “Farmers are shifting to basmati rice this year so sowing of short duration varieties can take place by July-end,” he added.

In the foodgrain category, the area under coverage for pulses increased by 9 per cent to 72.66 LH from 66.69 LH in the year-ago period.

The sowing area of coarse cereals is up 8 per cent to 93.91 LH from 87.06 LH, even as the acreage of maize is down to 49.90 LH from 56.69 LH. Area under coverage for bajra jumped to 34.46 LH from 20.88 LH.

In the non-food grains category, the area under oilseeds grew 7.38 per cent to 134.04 LH from 124.83 LH.

Under oilseeds, soyabean area is up 10 per cent to 99.35 LH from 90.32 LH.

Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) Executive Director B V Mehta said, “Thanks to high prices of oilseeds in the domestic market, farmers have been encouraged to expand area.” He, however, said it was too early to estimate about oilseeds output as the same would depend on weather conditions over the next two and half months.

High edible oil prices in retail markets have remained a major concern for the government in the last one year. The Centre has cut import duties on major edible oils multiple times to cool prices. Prices have started to soften now with the fall in global prices.

The cotton acreage is up 6.44 per cent so far to 102.8 LH from 96.58 LH. Sugarcane area is marginally down to 53.31 LH from 53.70 LH.

Area under jute and mesta is slightly less so far at 6.89 LH compared to 6.92 LH in the same period last year.

The total area under coverage for kharif is up marginally to 592.11 LH as on July 15 in the ongoing kharif season from 591.3 LH in the same period last year.

The sowing of kharif crops begins with the onset of the southwest monsoon in June. Paddy is a major kharif (summer-sown) crop.

On July 12, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said that there was “some lag in sowing of kharif crops so far but that is not a concern. That will be covered this month as the monsoon progresses.” Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, on July 6, asked states to increase sowing area of paddy as demand for Indian rice in global markets remains high.

He had asserted that there was no problem with rice stock in the central pool.

Higher sowing area of oilseeds augurs well for the country as this may lead to an increase in domestic production and reduce imports of cooking oils besides keeping retail prices under control.

India is heavily dependent on edible oil imports. The country imports around 60 per cent of its domestic requirement through imports.

Edible oil imports stood at record Rs 1.17 lakh crore during the 2020-21 oil year (November-October).

The country also imports pulses, but not in huge quantities like edible oils. PTI