Contingency plans on standby

After a hesitant monsoon marked its entry, sowing for the kharif season is slowly picking up. The Centre has kept on standby plans for rolling out fuel and power subsidies and drought resistant seeds in case the rains play truant.

As per the data released by the Agriculture Ministry, paddy has been sown over 3.46 lakh hectares as on Thursday, an increase of 13.44 per cent over the same period the previous year.

However, sowing area of oilseeds, sugarcane and cotton has been lower so far this season compared with last year.

Last week, the weather office announced that the monsoon would be less than the 93 per cent forecast in April indicating possibility of a drought.

Agriculture Minister Radhamohan Singh on Friday nominated joint secretaries of the departments of his ministry as nodal officers to monitor the status of the monsoon and crop production in states.

Each officer has been given responsibility of 2-3 states.

A review of the actual situation would be done in the first week of July and the ministry may ask the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to approve special measures such as diesel subsidy scheme, enhancing ceiling on seed subsidy, additional fodder production programme and special interventions for saving horticulture crops.

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