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Monsoon rebound prepares ground for bumper harvest

Conditions are ripe for a good harvest of the kharif crop & higher farm incomes, which should boost demand.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 17, 2019, 10.02 AM IST
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Now the conditions are ripe for a good harvest of the kharif, or summer-sown, crop and higher farm incomes, which in turn should boost festive season demand.
NEW DELHI: The rebound in monsoon rainfall has created ideal conditions for agriculture for the rest of the year with accelerated planting and much more water in reservoirs, which officials said would lead to record food production this year.

Rainfall in August has been 35% above normal so far, which has further improved crop planting and filled up major reservoirs with 25% more water than the 10-year average.

This completes the turnaround of the farm situation that looked grim in June when authorities were planning drought-relief measures as rainfall was one-third less than normal and reservoirs were depleting at a time they normally fill up to meet post-monsoon requirement of drinking, irrigation and power generation.

Will Also Help Rabi Crops
Now the conditions are ripe for a good harvest of the kharif, or summer-sown, crop and higher farm incomes, which in turn should boost festive season demand and to some extent revive sales of vehicles, gold and consumer goods in an economy where companies have been nervous about weak demand.

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“Good monsoon is kind of passport to better harvest,” agriculture commissioner SK Malhotra told ET. “We achieved record food grain production last year. This year also, we expect the same.”

He said crop planting had accelerated in step with monsoon rainfall, which improved significantly in July and has been in a vigorous phase for three weeks.

“The deficit in crop planting is fast reducing since the last 30 days,” Malhotra said. “We see some deficit in paddy sowing only, which we expect to cover up by August end. The sowing window for paddy is till August in West Bengal and Jharkhand. We don’t see any shortfall in food grain productions this year,” he said.

Data issued by the agriculture ministry on Friday shows that planting of oilseeds is almost the same as last year, cotton is 5.6% higher, while pulses and coarse grains are 3.5% lower. Rice planting is 11% lower, making total crop sowing 4% less than last year, which is a vast improvement over the 12.5% deficit in June.

Malhotra said the rains will not only help summer crops but also recharge the water table and fill reservoirs, which will help in the winter sowing also. Good monsoon rainfall, particularly towards the end of the season, are a boon for the winter-sown crops also as they improve soil moisture.

Officials said the improvement in oilseed planting, following heavy rains in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, was particularly encouraging. It is now barely 0.7% lower than last year, but yields are expected to be better.

“Government is focusing big on oilseeds production for becoming self-sufficient in edible oil production,” said PK Joshi, fellow at National Academy of Agricultural Sciences. “It is paying off well and we see a surge in oilseeds planting. We expect better yield this time as good high yielding varieties have been promoted,” he said. The Met department’s forecast of continuous good rains in the coming week has also raised hopes of increased economic activities in rural areas.
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