Higher water levels in reservoirs, more-than-normal rains in the current summer season and expectation of a good monsoon have motivated farmers to increase the pre-kharif area under crops like paddy, moong, maize, bajra and groundnut, resulting in a 36% year-on-year rise in crop area so far. The Reserve Bank of India on Friday acknowledged this, citing the agriculture sector as the ‘beacon of hope’ in its monetary policy announcement.
“Amid this encircling gloom, agriculture and allied activities have provided a beacon of hope on the back of an increase of 3.7% per cent in food grain production to a new record. A ray of hope also comes from the forecast of a normal southwest monsoon in 2020 by the India Meteorological Department (IMD),” RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said.
“Rabi procurement is in full flow in respect of oilseeds, pulses and wheat, benefiting from the bumper harvest. These developments will support farm incomes, improve the terms of trade facing the farm sector and strengthen food security for the country. Going forward, these would also have a salutary effect on food price pressures,” Das said.
The acreage of all pre-kharif crops like paddy, moong, maize, bajra and groundnut, sown before monsoon arrival where water is available, increased to 67.25 lakh hectare as on May 22. Sowing of paddy was up 38% to 34.87 lakh hectare, pulses by 33% to 12.82 lakh hectare, coarse cereals 41% to 10.28 lakh hectare and oilseeds rose 26% to 9.28 lakh hectares, all against their year-ago levels.
As on May 21, the country’s 123 major reservoirs across regions had 35% of their storage capacity whereas the normal (average of last 10 years) is 22%. The storage was at below-normal level in the year-ago period. Similarly, there is nearly a 50% jump in fertiliser sales (including complex fertilisers) in April to 19.14 lakh tonne.
The rainfall across the country since March 1 is 17% more than normal until May 22, according to official data. As many as 30 out of 36 meteorological sub-divisions, which covers 85% of the total land areas, have received normal or above-normal rainfall in this summer season.
The IMD last month predicted this year’s monsoon rainfall to be 100% of the long period average (LPA) of 88 cm. Monsoon rainfall between 96-104% of LPA is considered ‘normal’. The monsoon season of June-September has over 70% share in India’s annual rainfall and is considered key to the success of agriculture sector, as almost 55% of the agricultural land is rain-fed.
The Centre has procured 5.89 lakh tonne of chana, 4.97 lakh tonne of mustard and 4.99 lakh tonne of tur at minimum support prices though its nodal agency, Nafed, during the lockdown period. In the on-going season, the government also purchased 327 lakh tonne wheat till Friday, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.