Sowing area under summer crops — rice, pulses, millets and oilseeds — is marginally down so far at 6.77 million hectares (MH) compared to the previous year, according to the Agriculture Ministry data on Monday. The sowing area under rice and oilseeds (groundnut, sunflower and sesamum) has declined by 7% and 7.5%, respectively year-on-year.

The area under coverage for rice was 2.75 MH, so far against 2.97 MH in the year-ago period. Pulses, including green gram and black gram acreage, rose 6.5% 1.88 MH from 1.76 MH. Area under millets and coarse cereals rose by 6.7% to 1.14 MH from 1.07 MH a year ago.

The summer crops are grown during March-June. These crops are grown where there are assured irrigation facilities.
Summer crops such as pulses also help in nitrogen fixation in the soil prior to the taking up of kharif crops.

Meanwhile, the government last week had set a marginally higher target of 332 million tonne (MT) of foodgrains production for the 2023-24 crop year (July-June) against the estimated output of 323.5 MT in the current crop year.

The higher foodgrains — paddy, wheat, pulses, oilseeds and coarse grains production target has been set for the next crop season at the national conference on agriculture – kharif campaign-2023, organized by agriculture ministry despite the possibility of a deficient monsoon due to likely El Nino conditions developing at the later part of the monsoon months (June-September).

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) last month had predicted that southwest monsoon rainfall during June-September is likely to be in the ‘normal’ range at 96% of the benchmark long-period average (LPA).
Rainfall between 96-104% of the LPA is considered ‘normal’.

IMD will provide the updated forecast on the monsoon rains later this month. If the IMD’s prediction holds true, the country would receive ‘normal’ or ‘above normal’ rainfall for five consecutive years.

This is expected to give a boost to sowing of kharif crops — paddy, tur, soybean and cotton — while also ensuring adequate soil moisture for rabi crops like wheat, mustard and chana.

Another positive factor is that the 146 reservoirs in the country now have water levels at a comfortable 20% above the 10-year average, according to later Central Water Commission data.

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