Overall rabi sown area dips, but pulses' on rise
After recording marginally higher sown area under rabi crops for the past two weeks this month as compared to the corresponding period last year, the overall sown area dipped again on Friday. But farmers' choice to bring more area under pulses kept hopes alive for a good farm production during 2017-18 crop years (July-June).
Though the overall dip is attributed to sharp decline in area under wheat, the 9% rise in sown area under pulses so far (from 138.34 lakh hectares in 2016-17 to 150.63 lakh hectares this year) has kept the gap less. The sown area data, released by the agriculture ministry, show that the total area under rabi crops as on Friday stand at 565.79 lakh hectares as compared to 571.47 lakh hectares at this time last year.
"Deficient monsoon rainfall in wheat growing Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh resulted in less soil moisture and therefore the farmers in these two states and elsewhere opted not to go for bigger areas under wheat. Instead, they opted for pulses which use less water from deep soil," said an official. He said the larger area under pulses has indicated that the farmers have also diversified their cropping pattern a bit, keeping in view the increase in minimum support prices (MSP) for the 2017-18 crop year.
The government had in October increased MSP of six rabi crops. Though the MSP of wheat was also increased (by 6.8%), the hike was more for pulses. The MSP of gram was increased from 4,000 per quintal last year to 4,400 per quintal in 2017-18- a hike 10% per quintal.
Officials, tracking the sowing operations, believe that the marginal dip in overall sown area under rabi crops is not a sign of worry as farmers still have three-four weeks of sowing operation left for different crops.
By BOA Bureau