Winter chill brings warm glow of optimism for rabi crop

NEW DELHI: Warmer winters till mid-January had caused concerns for the rabi crop, but the return of chill and rains in northern and northeastern parts of the country have raised hopes for the farm sector.

Though the sown area under rabi crops continued to be less as on Friday as compared to the corresponding period last year, rains in coming days as predicted by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) will impact the sowing operation positively.

An encouraged agriculture ministry on Friday said the sowing process of pulses was still on and the overall sown area is likely to be increased.

"During the second fortnight of December and by January 10, the average temperature in some states in north India generally has been 2-3-degrees celsius more.

However, since previous week, the temperature has been stable. Therefore, the earlier enhanced temperature will not cast any adverse effect on the crops," the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

According to latest data, released by the ministry, the overall sown area under rabi crops stands at 589.95 lakh hectares as on January 22 as compared to 607.90 lakh hectares during the corresponding period last year.

Though areas under wheat, pulses and oilseeds continues to be lower than last year, the area under coarse grains (jwar, ragi etc.) is higher than 2015.

Sowing of oilseeds, primarily mustard, has in fact recovered quite well in the past week, reducing the gap between the sown area of this year and the corresponding period last year. As against 78.73 lakh hectare in 2015, the sown area under oilseeds stands at 77.32 lakh hectares as on Friday.

Sown area under wheat was at 291.97 lakh hectare on Friday as compared to 305.60 lakh hectares in 2015. Though sowing of wheat is almost coming to an end, the sowing of other crops including pulses and oilseeds will continue for another two weeks.

The impact of drought will, however, be felt in overall production of rabi crops as many parts of the country are still on moisture stressed conditions due to deficit rainfall.

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