By Deepak Sharma
New Delhi: As rains in India gathered pace this month indicating a bountiful Monsoon, farmers across the country, taking advantage of increased soil moisture, have increased the area under plantation.
As per the data made available by the Ministry of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare, Indian farmers have planted 69.2 million hectares with Summer crops, up by 21.2 per cent from 57.1 million hectares sowed by them during the corresponding period last year.
So far, farmers in India have planted paddy, the key Kharif crop, in 16.8 million hectares as against 14.2 million hectares in the previous year. Similarly, the area under cotton plantation increased to 11.3 million hectares as against 9.6 million hectares last year.
Planting of oil-seeds, including Soyabean, has been completed in 15.5 million hectares, up from 11 million hectares from the previous year.
Most Indian farmers start planting their Summer-sown crops also known as Kharif crops from June 1, the usual date of the beginning of Monsoon season in the subcontinent. Planting follows the progress of rains in the country and continues until the end of July or early August.
India, the world’s leading producer of rice and other agriculture produce, has received 10 per cent more precipitation so far during the monsoon, data from Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) showed. During this year’s monsoon, the country has received around 338 mm of rains as against 308 mm in the corresponding period in 2019.
As a result of comparatively better rains this year, water levels in India’s main reservoirs are substantially higher, according to the latest government data. As per the government estimates, better rains along with comfortable water levels in the major reservoir could help farmers to expand planting of all major crops in the country.
“There is no impact of COVID-19 on the progress of area coverage under Kharif crops as on date,” the agriculture ministry said in a release.
Increased planting raise hopes of record production in the current crop year that started in July this year. Buoyed by higher rainfall and likely increase in cultivated area, the government has set up an ambitious target of a record 298 million tonnes of grain production this year.
According to industry experts, the increase in agriculture production could help the country to mitigate some impact muted or even negative growth rate in other sectors of the Indian economy. Some even are arguing that amidst the predictions of dismal, if not negative, economic growth, agriculture seems to have emerged as a silver lining.
The rise in agricultural production could boost earning of around 70 per cent of the total population, which resides in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture and could also boost demand for various goods and services in the country.
Besides providing support to the economy, record agriculture output will also strengthen India’s position compared to other neighbouring countries including China, which is dependent on imports to feed its population.
Availability to surplus agriculture produce has not only helped the country to keep food inflation under control, it also helped the government in preventing starvation deaths during the several weeks long lock-down imposed in May to June period to check the spread of Coronavirus in the country.