All-India kharif sowing, which has been far behind its normal schedule this season, will progress in the coming days as the moisture levels have turned favourable with the recent rains, particularly in the major agro-belts of central India.
So far, the onset and advance of the monsoon this year have been largely in line with predictions. The first month of the season ended with a 33 percent deficit, but weather patterns now pave the way for a further monsoon advance and a promise of better rains in July and August.
In the last kharif sowing season (2018), the area under cultivation was 20 percent lower in June than in the preceding year due to a pause in the monsoon. This year is even worse, with sowing area in June being 10 percent below last year's level. Farm Ministry data show sowing is lagging, largely in pulses and a few oilseeds, including soybean.
By June 28, all-India cotton sowing, too, was 15 percent less than for the corresponding period last year. However, in the largest cotton-growing belt of Gujarat, 55 percent of sowing has been completed as Cyclone Vayu brought good rains to the west coast of the state.
Cotton acreage would go up in the coming 2019-20 season, as farmers obtained better realisations from the fibre crop in 2018-19. In a few states such as Maharashtra, farmers are not keen on cotton, given the yield concerns of the last 2-3 years. On the anticipated rise in sowing area, preliminary expectations of 2019-20 cotton output are higher than those for last year.
The area under cultivation in Gujarat of the largest grown oilseed, groundnut, also significantly jumped. Accordingly, by July 2nd, the all-India sowing figure was double that of the corresponding period last year. In 2018-19, groundnut was one of the most hit crops due to drought in the largest growing state, Gujarat. The scenario in the 2019-20 season for this oilseed is altogether different, given higher realisations and a better yield.
For the second year in a row, a bumper output is expected in 2019-20 for another kharif oilseed, soybean. Though the sowing of this oilseed has been delayed, it has now gathered pace and the area under cultivation may increase due to higher realisations in the last two years.
Moreover, keen to reduce dependence on edible oil imports, the government has substantially hiked the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of soybean in order to increase production. Thus, the larger area under cultivation and better yields may boost soybean production in the coming season.
The delayed rains have affected the sowing of pulses, particularly short-duration crops. Acreage may be much behind last year's level, particularly for tur dal. However, the output of pulses may still hover around last year?s levels if the rains are favourable during the growing phase.
(The author is Research Analyst - Agro Commodities at Anand Rathi Shares & Stock Brokers.)Disclaimer: The views and investment tips expressed by investment expert on moneycontrol.com are his own and not that of the website or its management. Moneycontrol.com advises users to check with certified experts before taking any investment decisions.