Winter crops: Rabi sowing nearly over, sown area marginally higher y-o-y

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Sowing of rabi (winter) crops — mostly consisting of wheat, pulses, oilseeds and coarse cereals — has been marginally higher than 2021 level, according to data released by the ministry of agriculture on Friday. The rabi sowing will be completed in a week.

The total area under all the rabi crops rose to 652 lakh hectare (lh) in 2021-22 season so far compared to 646 lh reported in the corresponding period of 2020-21 season.

Despite the increase in acreage this year, sowing of wheat and pulses, the key rabi crops, have been reported to be marginally lower.

Wheat has been sown in 334 lh as on Friday, compared with 340 lh in the year-ago period. The marginal drop in sowing of wheat is attributed to the delay in withdrawal of southwest monsoon rain last year. There was less area under wheat crop in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. Sowing of rabi (winter) crops like wheat begins in October and harvesting from April onwards.

A senior official with the agriculture ministry said that lower sowing of wheat is not a cause of concern as at present the Food Corporation of India has close to 36 million tonne (MT) of wheat stocks against the buffer norm on January 1 of 21.41 MT. India achieved a record wheat production of 122 MT in the 2020-21 crop year.

The winter pulses such as chana, moong and urad have been planted in 156 lh this year so far as against 158 lh reported last year. However, sowing of chana, which had close to 47% share in India’s pulses production of 25.72 MT in 2020-21, has been marginally higher at 109 lh so far compared to last year.

The sowing of oilseeds such as mustard, groundnut and sunflower rose sharply by more than 21% to close to 99 lh as on Friday from 81 lh reported a year back. The sowing of mustard so far has increased by 23% to close to 90 lh compared to close to 73 lh reported a year ago.

Official sources said higher oilseeds sowing would help meet domestic edible oil demand and reduce import dependence. India imports around 60% of domestic edible oil requirement while the retail prices have risen sharply in the last few months because of rise in global prices.

There was lower coverage under coarse-cum-nutri cereals as the total sown area has been lower at 46 lh so far as against 48 lh reported in the previous year.

In the next couple of weeks, rabi sowing activities will be completed across the country. FCI would commence procurement of wheat from April 1 while depending on the market price prevailing, farmers’ cooperative Nafed could commence procurement of pulses and oilseeds.