A delay in the arrival of monsoon rains, which are also expected to be below normal this year, has dragged down paddy planting by as much as 70% until Friday, according to the data by the agriculture ministry. Seasonal showers, too, trailed the benchmark 50-year average by 45% as of Friday, the weather office revealed.
Area under paddy, the most water-intensive crop, touched 2,38,000 hectares until Friday, compared with 7,94,000 hectares as of June 14 last year.
Summer crops are usually sown with the arrival of monsoon rains in June and harvested from mid-September. Since monsoon rains hit the Kerala coast, from where it progresses to other parts of the country, only on June 6, late by six days from the ideal date, sowing has been affected.
Moreover, a 74% drop in the rainfall so far this season from the long-period average in central India and 65% in east and north-eastern India have also affected sowing.
As of Friday, oilseed planting too dropped sharply 78,000 hectares, comapred with 1,57,000 hectares on June 14 last year. However, the sowing of sugarcane and cotton, which require less water than paddy, has gone up from the last year level.
Cotton planting rose to 1.73 million hecatres until Friday as against 1.58 million hecatres, while cane planting rose to 4.35 million hectares, compared with 4.20 million hectares during the review period.
India, the world’s second-largest vegetable oils buyer, imports around half of its annual requirement of cooking oils. Any fall in oilseed and pulse production would potentially drive up domestic prices.