The sowing of Kharif crops picked up despite COVID-19 lockdown limitations. With the agriculture sector exempted from lockdown restrictions, Advance Kharif sowing reported across India.
Advance Kharif Sowing
The Agriculture Ministry data shows a 37% increase in area covered under the early sowing of rice crops as against the previous year. Also, overall pre-monsoon sowing of Kharif crops, including rice, pulses, coarse cereals, and oilseeds is 31% more than usual.
In all, 48.8 lakh hectares have been sown so far. The cultivated area includes rice in 11.3 lakh hectares in West Bengal, 7.5 lakh hectares in Telangana, 3 lakh hectares in Odisha, and 2.7 lakh hectares in Assam. Besides, early sowing of oilseeds has seen 12% in the sowing area to 6.7 lakh hectares.
Government’s Target of Food Production
The government set a foodgrain production target of 298.3 million tonnes for the 2020-21 crop year. The production target is 2% more than received in the current year. The goal includes 149.92 million tonnes of foodgrain production in the Kharif season (rice 117.5 million tonnes) and 148.4 million tonnes in the rabi season.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in National Conference on Kharif crops 2020 said that the states must aim to achieve the target while doubling the farmers’ income. Also, it has increased oilseed target to 36.64 million tonnes as against 34.19 million tonnes. Besides, the coarse cereals production target has been set higher at 48.7 million tonnes.
Forecast for Well Rain-fed Kharif crops
Agriculture Commissioner S K Malhotra mentioned the augur of well rain-fed crops as the Indian Meteorological Department has forecasted the June to September southwest monsoon rainfall over the country. Also, Tomar has asked the states to explain the farmers about soil health cards and PM Fasal Bima Yojana. Further, he has asked to make sure that farmers can sell their crops at block level amid the lockdown.
COVID-19 Won’t Damage Agriculture Sector
Narendra Singh Tomar stated that there is no denying that the lockdown has created a shortage of labour. However, the government will make sure that agriculture will not suffer. Further, he assured that the stranded labourers got work in the villages. In addition, those who returned to their native villages found a job there also, no case of low wages reported in the case of agricultural labourers.
In all, harvesting operations have observed positivity and hence pre-monsoon sowing of Kharif crops has taken off.