Sowing of paddy in the country so far is significantly lower compared to the average sowing in the previous five years.
Farmers, not just in States that have received low rainfall, such as Odisha, Haryana, Assam, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, but also in Punjab, which received good ‘pre-monsoon’ rains last week, have adopted a ‘wait-and-watch’ approach.
On the bright side, rice sowing is likely to gather pace in the last week of June and early July, as “conditions are becoming favourable” for a further advance of the South-West monsoon after June 24, according to the Indian Meteorological Department.
Some more parts of the north Arabian Sea and Gujarat, the remaining parts of west Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and most parts of Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Punjab and east Rajasthan are likely to get covered by the monsoon this week.
“Advisories are now being sent to farmers to undertake transplanting of rice seedlings and continue nursery sowing of rice in almost all major rice growing States, including Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh,” an Agriculture Ministry official told BusinessLine.
Farmers in coastal Karnataka and Kerala as well as Assam, which may get a short-spell of heavy rains, have been advised to provide for proper drainage in rice fields and drain out excess water from rice nursery/transplanted rice field and orchards to avoid water stagnation.
“The timing of sowing is very important as not just early sowing but late sowing could also spoil a crop as a deluge at the wrong time could harm the seed,” pointed out agriculture expert VN Saroja.
Till June 24, lower area coverage under rice, compared to normal of corresponding week (average of 2011-12 to 2015-16), was reported from Punjab (8.08 lakh hectares shortfall), Odisha (2.09 lakh hectare shortfall), Chhattisgarh (1.59 lakh hectare shortfall), Haryana (1.26 lakh hectare shortfall), Assam (0.9 lakh hectare shortfall), Kerala (0.26 lakh hectare shortfall), Uttarakhand (0.12 lakh hectare shortfall), Bihar (0.10 lakh hectare shortfall), Telangana (0.09 lakh hectare shortfall), Andhra Pradesh (0.08 lakh hectare shortfall), West Bengal (0.06 lakh hectare shortfall), Tripura (0.06 lakh hectare shortfall), Rajasthan (0.05 lakh hectare shortfall), Sikkim (0.02 lakh hectare shortfall) and Mizoram (0.01 lakh hectare shortfall).
Plentiful rain is vital for a good rice crop as cereal — the staple food for people in Eastern and Southern India — is very heavily monsoon-dependent in the country.
India is the second largest producer of the crop (annual production of about 105 million tonnes), which is mostly grown in the kharif season, and accounts for over a fourth of total world production.