Rice cultivation shows a decline of 19 pc this kharif season

Hit by a belated monsoon and deficient rain this kharif season, farmers across the country, as on Friday, have sown paddy on 9.67 million hectare only, as against 12 million hectare in the corresponding period last year, thus registering a 19.33 per cent drop.

Sources in the weather office said: “Monsoon is expected to take a break from the north west region for most part of the next few days.” On an average, rain in the country was deficient by 23 per cent, while food bowls like Punjab and Haryana are combating a 70 per cent shortage.

However, 40 per cent of the  country received rain excess then normal, while the rest are left to fight the shortage.

The slow rate of sowing of paddy is a cause of concern as the kharif season, beginning in June, accounts for 90 per cent of the country’s total rice production.

Besides rice, the elusive rain has taken its toll on sowing of coarse cereals like Bajra, maize and jowar, which were sown on 3.97 million hectare as on Friday, a 46.55 per cent drop from last year’s figure of 7.43 million hectare, the Food Ministry said.

Coarse cereal cultivation have been especially hit in Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarkhand and West Bengal, the ministry said.

The figures for pulse production are no better with only 2.05 million hectare land being cultivated as against 3.28 million hectare in the corresponding period last year. The figures are especially alarming at Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, and Haryana.

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