Rajasthan plants two times more bajra as India’s paddy acreage drops by 26%
The uneven distribution of the southwest monsoon and Cyclone Biparjoy has had a significant impact on kharif crops, data from the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare showed on June 30, 2023.
Kharif crops had been sown in 20.32 million hectares (mha) across India till the fourth week of June ending June 30. This is 85,000 hectares more than last year.
However, this is 9.12 mha less than 2021. It is worth mentioning here that in 2022 also, sowing in the kharif season was significantly reduced due to a delay in the monsoon.
Paddy, pearl millet and maize
Union government data also showed that the acreage of paddy, the main crop of the kharif season, has decreased by 26 per cent. On the other hand, the area under bajra or pearl millet in Rajasthan has almost doubled.
Rajasthan has benefitted the most due to heavy rains (188 per cent more than normal) caused by Biparjoy and then the monsoon in June.
Kharif crops had been sown in 2.74 mha of Rajasthan till the last week of June last year. But this year, 5.4 mha have been sown, mostly with bajra.
Bajra was planted in 1.35 mha last year. This has increased to 2.92 mha this year. The state government has set a target of sowing bajra in 4.4 mha.
Apart from bajra, the area under oilseeds has also increased significantly in Rajasthan. Till the last week of June last year, 0.6 mha of oilseeds had been sown. This year, oilseeds have been sown in 0.88 mha so far. Among oilseeds, groundnut acreage has increased the most, while sunflower and soybean acreage has decreased.
Subhash Chandra, director, Directorate of Extension Education, Swami Keshwanand Rajasthan Agricultural University, Bikaner, said most areas of Rajasthan are rain-fed and rains this June have been plentiful.
“This rain is very beneficial for millets. So farmers have taken full advantage of it. Apart from this, cotton is cultivated in some areas, where this rain will also be beneficial to famers,” he told Down To Earth.
Paddy acreage till the last week of June this year in India was 2.66 mha, compared to 3.6 mha in June last year and 5.96 mha in June 2021.
Paddy acreage in Punjab has come down considerably. In June this year, sowing was done in 0.91 mha, which is 0.6 mha less than last year and 1.47 mha less than 2021.
In Uttar Pradesh, paddy has been sown in 0.43 mha so far, which is 0.12 mha less than last year and 56,000 hectares less than 2021.
Maize acreage in the country is also reported to be decreasing. Official data showed that maize had been sown in 0.8 mha in the country till June 30.
This is 0.26 mha less than last year and 1.4 mha less than 2021. Maize sowing has been the lowest in Karnataka. Maize has been sown in 0.12 mha of the state so far, which is 0.2.8 mha less than last year and 0.63 mha less than 2021.
Most affected states
Maharashtra also faced a lack of rain in June. Between June 1 and 29, 2023, Maharashtra received 50 per cent less rainfall than normal. Due to this, kharif sowing in Maharashtra has been badly affected.
In June this year, a total of 1.41 mha have been sown in Maharashtra, which is 1.01 mha less than 2022 and 5.33 mha less than 2021.
The second-most affected state is Karnataka. So far, 1.11 mha have been sown here, which is 1.26 mha less than 2022 and 1.7 mha less than 2021.
In Chhattisgarh too, kharif sowing has decreased significantly this year. So far in June, only 87,000 hectares have been sown, while 0.23 mha had been sown at this time last year. By the last week of June 2021, 0.61 mha more had been sown as compared to 2023.
Kharif sowing in Bihar has also been affected due to a rainfall deficit of about 69 per cent in June. By June 30, 0.34 mha had been sown, which is 70,000 hectares less than last year, but compared to 2021, there has been a decrease of 0.25 mha in Bihar this year.
This year is proving to be even worse in Jharkhand, which was struggling with drought last year. So far this year, only 13,200 hectares have been sown, compared to 44,300 hectares last year and more than 100,000 hectares in June 2021.