Concerns about kharif sowing persist due to uneven distribution of rainfall, says Crisil

After stalling from June-end to mid-July, the southwest monsoon accelerated to close the deficit in long period average (LPA) of rainfall from 7 per cent as on July 12 to just 4 per cent as on August 8. The India Meteorological Department forecasts monsoon will remain normal for the rest of the season. However, concerns around kharif sowing persist mainly because of uneven distribution of rainfall

During the recovery phase (commencing July 13), the country received 2 per cent lower rains than the LPA as on August 8. Rainfall was higher by 11 per cent and 12 per cent in North-west India and South peninsula region, respectively. The Central and East and North-east regions lagged 4 per cent and 20 per cent lower rains, respectively. “The patchy distribution of rains has perturbed many farmers. Gujarat, which accounts for 40 per cent and 20 per cent of total groundnut and cotton acreage, and Odisha, at 8 per cent of total paddy acreage, are at a cumulative deficit of 43 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively. In contrast, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana have received excessive rainfall as shown in the table below,” said Crisil.

The north-west, which was facing a 19 per cent deficit till July 12, currently has a rainfall level at 11 per cent above LPA. “This recovery has been pivotal in supporting the standing crops and improving crop acreages. Soybean acreage in Rajasthan revived significantly and was 3 per cent lower on-year as on August 6 compared with 40 per cent lower as per the July 16 sowing report. Haryana received excessive rainfall (86 per cent of LPA) during the revival phase, which damaged standing crops, especially cotton, impacting further sowing in the state,” said Crisil.

In Central India, rainfall was 4 per cent deficient compared with the LPA (July 13 – August 8). Good rainfall in Madhya Maharashtra, Vidarbha and supported kharif acreage, which was merely 1 per cent lower on-year, according to the state sowing report dated August 2. The floods in Maharashtra were mainly concentrated in the Konkan region. According to latest government estimates, over 2 lakh hectares of crop area has been damaged.

However, patchy rainfall distribution caused disquiet in some areas. According to the Crisil report, “Rainfall in Gujarat remained at 46 per cent deficit even during the revival phase. The 43 per cent cumulative rainfall deficit in the state from June 1 to August 8 resulted in a shift from groundnut and cotton to castor, a hardy crop that can survive prolonged water stress. According to the government’s sowing report of August 6, groundnut in the state is down by 7 per cent and cotton lower by 1 per cent over a low base of last year. Madhya Pradesh was under a prolonged dry spell from mid-June to mid-July. This beat down soybean and urad acreage by 11 per cent and 5 per cent on-year, respectively, as per the sowing report till August 6, despite a revival in monsoon rains in the state to a great extent. However, the rainfall recovery from July 13 to August 8 supported paddy and maize acreage, which were higher by 19 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively.” As per CRISIL Research’s ground level interactions, the share of direct seeded rice is on the rise in the state.

South India continues to receive higher rains, at 12 per cent above normal. As per state report, overall kharif sowing for Telangana has been reported higher by 7 per cent on-year as on August 4. “While water-logging was reported in low-lying areas of northern Telangana during the last week of July, there was no major impact on kharif crops. The east and northeast areas recorded 20 per cent lower-than-normal rainfall between July 13 and August 8. However, this will not have a major impact since the sowing window for their key crop paddy will be open for next 2-3 weeks. Incessant rains lashed Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan towards the end of July and beginning of August. Parts of east Rajasthan and north Madhya Pradesh were deluged with extremely heavy rains, which could affect field crop productivity, especially of soybean and pulses. In our view, overall kharif sowing is expected to remain 1 per cent lower on-year and 3-4 per cent higher over the average of the past five years,” said Crisil.

Cumulative sowing till August 8 was 2 per cent lower on-year, attributable to the advancement in sowing last year, and 3 per cent higher than the average of the past five years. “With Indian agriculture largely rainfall-dependent, the now-on, now-off monsoon this year has shifted the sowing from much-expected oilseeds (groundnut and soybean) to maize and paddy for kharif. While the IMD has forecast a normal monsoon going forward, kharif productivity will depend on its temporal and spatial distribution,” said the Crisil report.

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