Indian farmers have planted 79.9 million hectares with summer crops so far, according to the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, up 18.3% from last year as robust monsoon rains spurred sowing in the world’s leading producer of farm goods.

Farmers generally start planting rice, corn, cotton, soybeans, sugarcane and peanuts, among other crops, from June 1, when monsoon rains typically arrive in India. Sowing usually lasts until July or early August.

Monsoon rains play a crucial role in agriculture, which employs 50% of India’s 1.3 billion people, as nearly half of the country’s farmland lacks irrigation.

The farm ministry provides updates on the provisional sowing figures as it gathers information from state governments. The planting figures are also subject to revision depending on the progress of the June-September monsoon season.

As of Friday, planting of rice, the key summer crop, was at 22 million hectares, against 18.7 million hectares at the same time last year. Corn planting was at 7.1 million hectares, up from 6.6 million during the same period last year.

The area planted with cotton totalled 11.8 million hectares against 9.6 million hectares a year earlier.

Sowing of soybeans, the main summer oilseed crop, stood at 11.4 million hectares, compared with 9.7 million hectares at the same time in 2019. Soybean output is set to jump by at least 15%.

Planting of the protein-rice pulse was at 9.9 million hectares, higher than 7.9 million hectares last year. Sugar cane sowing was unchanged at 5.1 million hectares.

India has received 6% above average rainfall since June 1.

The 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.

Water levels in main reservoirs were at 39% of their storage capacity, against 25% at the same time last year.

kharif sowing healthy in India
The third week of July, the area of major kharif crop sowing in the country increased by 18.50 per cent over the corresponding period of the previous year, according to the latest data available with the Ministry of Agriculture.

Sowing data of major kharif crops such as paddy, pulses, coarse cereals and oilseeds on July 24 showed that a total of 799.95 lakh hectare have been covered this year, compared to 675.07 lakh hectare in the last Kharif season.

Rural growth has outpaced urban growth in the recent months and analysts remained optimistic that good crop sowing and higher yield will boost rural income, an analyst with a brokerage house told PTI.

Paddy sowing was done in 220.24 lakh hectare out of the normal 397 lakh hectare till July 24. During the period under review last year, paddy was planted only in 187.70 lakh hectare, the ministry data said.

The 32.54 lakh hectare of increase in area under coverage was contributed by states like Uttar Pradesh (6.50 lakh hectare), Jharkhand (6.10 lakh hectare), Madhya Pradesh (5.98 lakh hectare), Bihar (5.66 lakh hectare), Chhattisgarh (3.57 lakh hectare) and West Bengal (2.80 lakh hectare).

In pulses, the total sowed area was 99.71 lakh hectare out of 128.88 lakh hectare. So far, the coverage is higher by over 25 per cent over the same period last year.

While area coverage of coarse cereals such as jowar, bajra, ragi and maize was increased by 16.83 lakh hectare over the period under review, that of oilseeds was up by 32.80 lakh hectare till now.

Jute and Mesta showed a marginal growth of 1.49 per cent so far. Data showed almost 90 per cent sowing had completed out of 7.87 lakh hectare of normal sowing.

Almost three million farmers are engaged in jute cultivation, the data showed.