Farmers sow more pulses, oilseeds

Hopes are rekindled as monsoon advances fast

Farmers sow more pulses, oilseeds

As the monsoon races across the country, farmers have opted to sow more pulses and oilseeds, raising hopes of reining in the spiralling prices of the kitchen staples.

Pulses-growing states such as Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have reported significant increase in acreage of moong, arhar and urad this year.

The Narendra Modi government has given primacy to increasing production of pulses retailing at more than Rs 100 per kg.

The better-than-expected June rainfall has prompted farmers to nearly double the area under kharif pulses cultivation to 11.04 lakh hectares from the 6.14 lakh hectares, covered in the corresponding period last year.

The government had increased the minimum support price of pulses by Rs 275 per quintal to Rs 4,675 per quintal to encourage farmers to take up their cultivation. However, pulses have been getting more than Rs 7,000 per quintal in the open market.

Statistics released by the Agriculture Ministry show oilseeds acreage has grown five-fold over last year, from 5.29 lakh hectares to 27.89 lakh hectares.

Farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have taken to cultivation of soyabean and groundnut, respectively, in a big way. As many as 15.82 lakh hectares in Madhya Pradesh have been brought under soyabean cultivation this year, compared to virtually nil last year. Similarly, 3.709 lakh hectares in Gujarat are under groundnut cultivation this year, as compared to 64,000 hectares last year.

India imports 4 million tonnes of pulses and 11 million tonnes of vegetable oil every year to meet domestic demands. Increase in pulses and oilseed acreage this year could help cut the import bill.

The faster coverage of monsoon has also led to increase in the acreage of coarse cereals and cotton. However, paddy coverage has fallen.

The Agriculture Ministry data showed 23.28 lakh hectares of farmland under paddy cultivation as compared to 25.04 lakh hectares the same time last year.

A better-than-expected start to the monsoon season has also resulted in improved water availability at major reservoirs across the country.

As of Thursday, the water availability at 91 major reservoirs was 27 per cent of their total storage capability. The present storage position during the current year is better than last year, and is better than the average position over the past 10 years, said an official statement.

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