UP, MP, Vidarbha get deficient rain
Rice, soybean output could be hit; experts say no alarm bells yet

India’s major rice growing state Uttar Pradesh and soybean producing Madhya Pradesh have received deficient rainfall this year, while farmers in 78 per cent areas of the country rejoice the prospect of good crops on bountiful monsoon.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) data, seven subdivisions, out of 36, have received deficient rainfall this season while others have got normal or excess showers. The areas which received deficient rain -- 22 per cent of the total area in the country got poor rainfall — include Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and the Vidarbha region.

“Now it is raining in Indore, which is the major soybean hub of the country,” said DN Pathak, executive director of Soybean Processors Association. He said the IMD data show a cumulative figure and there is no concern for the crop due to that deficiency.

He said the quality of early sowing soybean may get affected if more rains continue for now as farmers in some parts have started harvesting the oilseed crop. So far, there is no report of damage to the crop or any chance of yield loss due to lower rainfall, he said, adding the deficiency is there as Madhya Pradesh received less rain in July and August.

In western Uttar Pradesh, farmers are unperturbed as they have irrigation facilities in place, while the situation is not the same in the eastern parts. The weather bureau data show that east UP has received 589.9 mm rainfall between June 1 and September 12 as against 800.3 mm considered normal in this period, down by 26 per cent. Similarly, the monsoon rainfall is deficient by 37 per cent in the western region.

“Farmers have definitely saved the crops, but ground water cannot be an alternative to monsoon rains,” said Dharmendra Malik, spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union. He said there were rains 2-3 days back which saved the crops, otherwise there could have been bigger damage to sugarcane and paddy due to pest. The input costs of farmers have increased due to the use of more pesticides and water, Malik said. There were reports of white bore attack in sugarcane around Muzaffarnagar, but that has been contained, he said.
Farmers have also sprayed pesticide in paddy crop to prevent any pest attack, he added.

“It is difficult to estimate crop losses, if any, as reports of the damage due to pest attack is very limited,” he said.

The country’s major foodgrains, rice and pulses, may see the same level of production as last season, according to agriculture secretary SK Pattanayak. “Though there may be some decline in tur production due to lower sowing under the crop, the overall output of pulses may remain the same as the last kharif,” he said.

There is no concern for rice and its production will also be around the last kharif level, he said. On edible oils, Pattanayak said there may be a drop in oilseeds, but that can be managed since a major part of cooking oil is imported.

The government is expected to release the first crop estimates of this year comprising kharif crops such as rice, maize, tur, moong, urad, soybean, groundnut, cotton and sugarcane at a two-day conference scheduled for September 19-20.

The total area under rice is down at 371.5 lakh hectares as of September 8 compared to 376.9 lakh hectares in the year-ago period, according to official data. Pulses sowing is also lower at 139.2 lakh hectares as against 144.8 lakh hectares in the corresponding period of last year. The acreage of oilseeds has also dropped to 169.2 lakh hectares from 187.2 lakh hectares.