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MoAFW estimates total area sown through July 24, 2020 at 79.99 million hectares

07.08.2020 14:15 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) Following are selected highlights from a report issued by a U. S. Department of Agriculture attache in The New Delhi (India), the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoAFW) estimates total area sown through July 24, 2020 at 79.99 million hectares, compared to 67.5 million hectares at the same time last year (weak 2019 monsoon through mid-July 2019). However, the current seasons planting is also significantly higher than the 5-year average for area planted till July 24 (76.0 million hectares).

Plantings of almost all the crops are higher by double digits over last year, but the planting of largely unirrigated crops like pulses, oilseeds, and cotton are higher than irrigated crops like rice and sugarcane, and rain-fed coarse grains. Market sources report that planting for most crops will be over by the end of July,

meeting the ideal planting window. However, planting for rice in southern India will continue through September.

Besides timely and sufficient monsoon rains, the record pace of planting has been supported by higher labor availability resulting from the migration of the urban/industrial un/semi-skilled laborers in May/June. Due to the COVID19 lockdown imposed at the end of March, and resultant economic crisis leading to job losses in urban areas, literally hundreds of thousand workers returned to their home village in the late spring/early summer months.

Most farmers will continue to plant rice over other crops wherever they have irrigation water availability due to relatively stable yields and market prices. Relatively higher market prices for pulses and oilseed and timely/sufficient monsoon rains have bolstered planting of pulses and oilseed. Market sources expect higher than previously expected acreage will be mostly coming out of last years fallow/uncultivated land as these crops need less water. Overall planting prospects for rice and other coarse grains are unlikely to improve from the forecast levels due to the limited scope of acreage substitution between the competing crops.

GENERAL SITUATION

Excellent 2020 monsoon …

The Southwest Monsoon covered the entire country by June 26, twelve days ahead of the normal date of July 8.

The rains were sufficient and well-spread through June and most of July across the country, except for weak rains in some parts of the country in the second week of July.

The latest update from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) indicates the cumulative rainfall for the week ending July 26, 2019 was 4 percent above normal (compared to the 20-year average), with 29 of the 36 weather subdivisions receiving normal/above normal rains, and only 7 subdivision receiving deficient rains. Lasts year data suggests that about 21 of the 36 subdivision received deficient rains by end of July 24, 2019.

The IMD has forecast good rainfall in the last week of July and normal rainfall in August for most parts of the country, which will further augment planting and early plant setting/growth of kharif crops during the ongoing season. However, heavy rains have resulted in floods in the eastern states of Bihar and Assam.

The latest information from the Central Water Commission suggests that the water stored in the major reservoirs as of July 23, 2020 was 66.37 billion cubic meters (BCM), significantly higher than 42.8 BCM last year and 55.82 BCM the 10-year average. However, the reservoir water situation is likely to improve further with the expected normal monsoon in August.

… Bolsters Strong Kharif Planting

The early coverage and sufficient 2020 monsoon during June-July has supported a significantly higher pace of planting of kharif crops during the current season, with overall planting estimated to be more than 18 percent over last year. The planting has also been supported by increased availability of migrant laborers who returned to their villages from urban areas in May-June due to the economic crisis prompted by COVID19 in

urban/industrial areas.

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