Less than a third of India gets normal showers

Deficient/excess rain in 69% of districts to hit Kharif crops

Almost a third of the country’s 700-odd districts have witnessed deficient monsoon rainfall this season, while another 37% have received excess showers, which could clip the kharif harvest. According to the latest data by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), only 31% of the country has seen normal showers.

While several regions in southern, central and north-western India have witnessed water logging and flood-like situations, deficient rainfall in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand have severely impacted sowing, especially of paddy, officials sources told FE.

Paddy planting has been impacted due to severe deficiency in the rainfall in Uttar Pradesh (- 47%), West Bengal (-21%), Bihar (-42%) and Jharkhand (-38%) against the benchmark until Friday.

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West Bengal, the biggest rice producing state, has received deficient rainfall in 15 of its 23 districts. Importantly, in East Bardhaman district, considered as the rice bowl of West Bengal, the rainfall deficiency has been as high as 40%. Similarly, in Murshidabad and Bankura, the other key producing regions of the state, the deficit has been to the tune of 65% and 33%, respectively.

The total area under paddy in West Bengal was down 31% to 2.43 million hectare (MH), against 3.5 MH a year before, according to the data released by the agriculture ministry on August 12.

However because of better irrigation facilities in Uttar Pradesh, paddy sowing dropped by only 5% from a year beofre to 5.6 MH, despite the sharp rainfall deficit.

Overall paddy area across the country was reported at 30.97 MH, 12% lower than year before. Trade sources said that India’s rice production could decline by 6 – 10 million tonne (MT) in 2022-23 crop year (July – June) from a record of 130 MT of production estimate for 2021-22 crop year.

Official sources told FE while several rainfall surplus regions in south, central and north-west have faced waterlogging and flood, deficient rainfall in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand have severely impacted sowing activities could result in fall in output of kharif crops especially paddy and to some extent pulses.

“We can assess the impact of imbalance in rainfall pattern on kharif crops yield only by middle of September,” an official said. Agriculture ministry will release the first advance estimate of kharif crops for the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) next month.

According to India Meteorological Department, cumulative monsoon rains between June 1- August 19 was 660 mm which was 8% (above normal level) more than the normal benchmark – long period average (LPA) of close to 611 mm.

While monsoon has been bountiful in key pulses and oilseeds growing regions of South Peninsula and Central India with a surplus rainfall of 26% and 23% respectively against the benchmark, 19% deficiency in rainfall in east and north-eastern regions have adversely impacted paddy sowing. The Northwest region has received normal rainfall so far.

“Apart from the eastern parts, there has been no major distress witnessed in kharif crops in the central, western and southern parts,” Akhilesh Jain, co-founder, Agrotech India, told FE.

Kharif pulses – tur and urad and oilseeds – soyabean and groundnut growing states including Rajasthan (48%), Madhya Pradesh (17%), Gujarat (42%), Maharashtra (29%) and Karnataka (29%) have received surplus rainfall than the benchmark, which is likely to impact yield because of reports of stagnation of water from several places.

“Because of surplus rainfall, the yield of pulses could go down by 10% to 15%,” Nitin Kalantri, managing director, Kalantry Food Products, a Latur, Maharashtra-based processor, said. Pulses are grown in rainfed regions as these are less water intensive crops.

While oilseeds such as soyabean and groundnut have been sown in 18 million hectare (MH) which is marginally less than last year. Pulses have been sown in 4% less area than last year.

“This year due to delayed monsoon and remunerative price for soybean and cotton made a lot of farmers shift to these crops from growing pulses such as tur and urad leading to lower acreage,” Harsha Rai, of Mayur Global Corporation, an agri-business firm, said. She said that excessive rainfall in key pulses growing areas of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra expected adversely impact yield.

According to Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA), oilseed variety has been sown in 11.75 MH this year which is marginally lower than 11.98 MH in 2021. As per the ministry of agriculture data, soybean sown area has declined to 11.46 MH this year against 12.36 MH a year ago.

“Excessive rainfall in key growing states such as Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra is unlikely to impact soybean yield as its more resilient variability in rainfall and at present the crop outlook is robust,” DN Pathak, executive director, SOPA, said.

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