Kharif sowing rises, but uneven rainfall puts pulses, oilseed, cotton crops at risk

The latest update on monsoon activity indicates that the monsoon is in a deficit zone at 9% below LPA for the period till 15th September 2023. Kharif sowing is slightly higher than last year’s levels, but pulses, oilseeds, and cotton acreage are lagging behind due to uneven distribution of rainfall. This might lead to lower crop yield. Lower reservoir levels also pose a risk for rabi sowing.

As the kharif sowing is nearing completion, the government has set a higher procurement target of 521.3 lakh tonne (518 lakh tonnes last year) for rice as the marketing season begins in October 2023. The risk of lower crop yield might result in higher prices; however, the government has proactively made efforts to address rising prices by reducing the prices for LPG and imposing restrictions on rice exports, among others.

India’s overall kharif sowing has marginally increased by 0.3% compared to last year as of September 15th, 2023. The sown area of coarse cereals has advanced by 0.9% due to improvements in the sowing levels of Bajra and Maize. The sown area of rice and sugarcane has further advanced by 2.7% and 7.7%, respectively.

However, pulses acreage continues to lag behind, with a decrease of 5.2% due to scanty rainfall. Arhar sowing is down by 5.6% and Urad sowing is lower by 2.2%.

Moreover, the sowing area under cultivation for cotton, as well as Jute and Mesta crops, has also dropped by 3.2% and 5.7%, respectively, for the same period. The sowing area of oilseeds has also declined by 1.1%, even though soybean continues to register an uptick.

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Kharif status in India

CropsArea Sown in 2023-24 (Lakh ha)Area Sown in 2022-23 (Lakh ha)Change (YoY %)
Coarse Cereals183.1181.50.9
Jute and Mesta6.67-5.7
All Crops1095.41091.90.3

The deficient monsoon has also impacted water reservoir levels, which stand at only 66% of total capacity as of September 14, 2023, compared to 86% during the previous season. The live storage available in 150 reservoirs is at 77% of the last year’s storage and 88% of the ten-year average.

Regionally, reservoir levels have shown significant declines compared to the previous year in Northern (81% versus 86% last year), Central (76% versus 82% last year), Western (74% versus 92%), Eastern (59% versus 65%), and Southern regions (48% against 92%).

Monsoon: Below-average rainfall, varying reservoirs

According to the latest update, the South West Monsoon for the period from June 1, 2023, to September 15, 2023, is 9% below the Long Period Average (LPA) compared to last year. While most states across the country have received normal rainfall, certain states such as Kerala, Bihar, Jharkhand, and some states in the North East region have experienced deficient rainfall.

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The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions are currently positive and expected to strengthen in the coming months. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasts above-normal monsoon rainfall activity in the entire country over the next two weeks.

The cumulative rainfall for the period from June 1 to September 15, 2023. Compared to last week, 10 out of 36 subdivisions have received lower rainfall. Additionally, there are 6 states in the deficient zone.

In terms of reservoir levels, as of September 14, 2023, the reservoir level stands at 66% of total capacity compared to 86% for the previous season. The total live storage available in 150 reservoirs is at 77% of last year’s storage and 88% of the average storage for the last 10 years. 

Region-wise, reservoir levels this year have been significantly lower than last year’s levels: Northern region (81% versus 86%), Central region (76% versus 82%), Western region (74% versus 92%), Eastern region (59% versus 65%), and Southern region (48% versus 92%).

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