Indian farmers have planted 12 million hectares with summer-sown rice, preliminary farm ministry data for this year showed, up 25% from last year as robust monsoon rains encouraged the expansion of acreage.

Buoyed by the plentiful rains, rice farmers are likely to harvest a record crop and step up overseas sales from the world’s biggest exporter of the grain.

Farmers start planting rice, corn, cotton, soybeans, sugarcane and peanuts among other crops from June 1, when monsoon rains reach India. Nearly half of India’s farmland lacks irrigation and planting usually lasts through July.

The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare issued preliminary figures for planting from June 1-July 10, which are subject to revision as it gathers more information from state governments.

The area planted with cotton was at 10.5 million hectares, up from 7.8 million hectares at the same time last year.

Sowing of oilseeds was at 13.9 million hectares, compared with 7.5 million hectares at the same time in 2019.Planting of pulses touched 6.4 million hectares, sharply higher than 2.4 million hectares in the previous year.

 India has received 14% higher than average rain since the monsoon season began on June 1.

India’s weather office defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 88 cm for the entire four-month season.