The deficit in southwest monsoon has narrowed and the sowing of summer (kharif) crops is progressing well across the country, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Friday. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has projected the overall monsoon to remain normal. However, till August 8, the rainfall was 5 per cent below the normal level.
"Monsoon was delayed a bit and there was some concern. By God's grace, the rainfall has improved now and the deficit has narrowed," Mr Tomar told reporters.
"We expect the overall rainfall will recover and the deficit in sowing area under the Kharif crops will be covered. The sowing operation is progressing well," he added.
On flood situation in some states including Maharasthra and Karnataka, the minister said the central government is closely monitoring the situation.
Sowing of kharif crops like paddy and pulses begins with the onset of monsoon from June and harvesting starts from October onwards.
According to sowing data maintained by the Union Agriculture Ministry, total acreage sown to all kharif crops so far has remained lower at 869.55 lakh hectare as against 918.70 lakh hectare a year ago.
"The deficit in overall sowing area has improved compared to the last week. Now, the gap has come down," said Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agrawal.
The rice acreage is still lagging and it will be recovered in the coming weeks as sowing widow is there till September first week, he said.
Rice acreage was down at 265.20 lakh hectare so far in the Kharif season of the 2019-20 crop year (July-June), as against 304.18 lakh hectare in the year-ago period, according to ministry data.
Mr Agrawal said pulses acreage has improved but oilseeds area is still down and the deficit will also recover in the days to come.
Pulses was sown in 115.39 lakh hectare so far this kharif season as against 121.39 lakh hectare in the year-ago, while oilseeds was planted in 157.17 lakh hectare as against 162.52 lakh hectare in the said period, the data showed.
Coarse cereals were sown in lesser area at 153.92 lakh hectare as against 162.52 lakh hectare in the said period.
In case of commercial crops, the sugarcane area was sown in 52.30 lakh hectare so far this kharif season of this year as against 55.45 lakh hectare a year ago.