NEW DELHI: Farmers have started preparing land for growing kharif crops following onset of monsoon rains in some parts of the country.
This time round, farmers are expected to bring 107 million hectares under cultivation for paddy, soyabean, pulses, cotton, bajra, jowar, groundnut and maize, raising hopes of a bigger grain harvest this year.
Companies and analysts said the acreage under cotton could surpass soyabean and pulses as prices are firm. The government, however, could announce higher minimum support price for pulses and oil seeds to boost domestic production and reduce the country’s dependence on imports, they said.
Farmers have already started preparing land and raising paddy nurseries, from where saplings will be transplanted to fields by the second week of June.
“Planting of kharif crop should be at 107-108 million hectares in addition to the planting of horticulture crops,” said Trilochan Mohapatra, director-general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the country’s top agriculture research institute.
He said that with pre-monsoon rains occurring in most parts of the country, farmers would start preparing for paddy soon. In the previous year, rice was planted on 38.89 million hectares. In 2016, the total area under kharif crops as of September 30 was 107.11 million hectare, compared with 103.52 million hectares a year ago.
The area under soyabean, the second-largest cultivable crop followed by cotton and pulses (tur/arhar and moong), may increase, said Dinesh Shahra, managing director of Ruchi Soya Industries.
“Planting across Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh will begin soon. We are working to ensure good seeds reach farmers. This will increase yields by over 30% from the current 0.8- 1.6 tonnes per hectare which a farmer gets,” he said.
Area under groundnut could also see an increase, said Prerana Desai, vice-president at Edelweiss Agriculture Value Chain. Oilseed planting in the previous year was 18.97 million hectare.
Desai said farmers could move to cotton, whose prices have been good the year round.
“Pulses’ prices have been consistently lower and the government has a huge stock. We don’t expect a sharp recovery in pulses’ prices soon,” she said.
However, Pravin Dongre, chairman, Indian Pulses and Grain Association, said farmers will weigh in a lot of things, including economics, before taking a decision on planting. “Pulses seed prices are low this year. Aided with good monsoon rain, yields will be higher, making it a remunerative crop,” he said. Pulses were planted on 14.62 million hectares in the previous year.