Kharif output may take big hit: Experts

With the sowing season nearing its end, experts have warned that kharif crop output could be significantly lower this year as the area under cultivation of rice, urad and tur is down by an average of 52.98% from last year. Erratic rainfall has also caused crop damage in several areas, they said.

“The lag in kharif sowing may be difficult to make up in the second half of the season,” said Aditi Nayar, chief economist at

.

Reducing the scope of a pickup in sowing is the problem of labour shortage, as farm hands have moved to the urban centres with the revival of labour-intensive sectors such as manufacturing and construction. “We expect the kharif acreage to lag last year’s sown area,” Nayar said.

There is a 52.98% % deficit in the sowing area, from 99.73 million hectares in 2021 to 46.897 million hectares as on August 12, according to data on the agriculture ministry’s National Food Security Mission website.

The drop in acreage under rice as on August 5 was 13%. In the case of tur, it was 11.67% as on August 12, while that for urad was 4.57%.

RAINFLL DEFICIT

The shortfall in sowing of rice is mainly on account of rainfall deficit in the major rice producing states, such as Gangetic West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. While rainfall deficit in east and west Uttar Pradesh is 47% and 40%, respectively, it is 40% in Bihar and 35% in West Bengal, according to data from India Meteorological Department. Jharkhand has a deficiency of 36%.

As per traders’ estimates, rice output may drop by about 10 million tonnes in 2022-23 to 120 million tonnes.

However, some believe that the fall in acreage may not necessarily mean shortage of rice. “Rice is grown across the country, so even if there is a slight fall in acreage the situation will not be as bad as wheat,” said Rajiv Kumar, executive director, Rice Exporters’ Association. “The government also has a huge stock of rice.”

RISING PULSE

The prices of tur and urad increased in July and early August on account of a fall in acreage in the ongoing kharif season, prompting the government to make it mandatory for stockholders to disclose stocks of tur.

“Heavy rains in the major pulses producing regions such as Maharashtra and Karnataka and standing water in the fields may affect plant development,” said Rahul Chauhan, director of agriculture research firm iGrain India.

While the area under tur is less than last year, heavy rains in Rajasthan can damage the crops, he said. Moong and urad need clear skies for flowering and are heavily dependent on weather conditions.

SOYA STABLE

The acreage under soyabean is 11.874 million hectares as compared with 11.793 million hectares last year. In addition, it is a

crop and can withstand erratic rainfall, so the overall production could be the same as last year, said Chauhan.

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