Early trends of sowing of rain-fed kharif crops say it all. In the first week of June, the planting of cereals and pulses is 24 per cent lesser than the corresponding period last year. As on June 7, 2019, 0.45 million hectares of food grains have been sown compared to 0.59 million hectares in the first week of June in 2018. Overall progress of sowing of kharif crops such as rice, pulses, oilseeds, cotton and sugarcane in the first week of June was marginally lower from the last year's pace - actual area sown as percentage of normal area sown stood at 6.8 per cent this year compared to 6.9 per cent in 2018 and 7.3 per cent in 2017.
The progress of planting of food grains in early June this year was the slowest over the last four years in terms of actual area sown as percentage of normal area sown. This measure dropped from 1.82 per cent in 2017 to 0.6 per cent for pulses in 2019. Cotton and sugarcane, however, saw some improvement in actual area sown as percentage of normal area sown this year at 97.9 per cent and 11.1 per cent, respectively.
The onset of monsoon kick-starts the sowing of Kharif crops in June. This year, after a week's delay, the southwest monsoon hit Kerala coast on June 8 against the official onset date of June 1. With the onset of monsoon in Kerala begins the four-month long rainy season in the country. Last year, it arrived three days ahead of the schedule but was delayed in 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2018, India received 804 mm of rainfall, which was 90.3 per cent of the long period average (LPA). The weather office predicted rainfall to be 97 per cent of the LPA last year. By the end of the monsoon season (as on September 21, 2018), 105.7 million hectare of kharif crops were sown.
It is too early to predict sowing trends as the monsoon has just arrived and sowing will advance with the progress of the monsoon. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasts a normal south-west monsoon (June-September) rainfall over the country in 2019. Since these are rain-fed crops, farmers are delaying planting until the onset of the monsoon. Independent weather agency, Skymet, issued an advisory, asking farmers in southern and central India to wait. "This caution has been extended for the simple reason that sowing of crops at this point of time, when the onset of monsoon is delayed and chances of good rains are less, will only push up the cost for farmers and also hamper the yield of the crop," Skymet Weather said in a statement.