Early rains to boost kharif crops planting: Govt

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KHARIFNew Delhi, June 17;Early onset of monsoon will boost kharif crops like paddy and oilseeds and help increase agriculture productivity at a time when economy is facing downturn, the government said on Monday.

Monsoon rains has covered almost the entire country a month in advance. The country has so far received 28 per cent more rainfall than normal that would lead to timely sowing and improve prospects of agriculture sector, which contributes 15 per cent to the country’s GDP.

More than 60 per cent of population depends on agriculture and rains are crucial as only 45 per cent of cultivable area is irrigated.

“The current rains will improve sowing of all kharif crops. If monsoon forecast of the Met Department comes true, total agriculture production will exceed the previous records,” Agriculture Commisssioner J.S. Sandhu told PTI.

Rains will improve soil moisture in drought-hit states like Maharashtra, while it will also reduce energy cost of irrigation, it added.

“Normally, farmers in Punjab and Haryana use irrigation for land preparation. Early rains will help farmers in saving this energy cost for pumping irrigation water,” Mr. Sandhu said.

Planting of paddy and other kharif crops will be in full swing in the next two week, he said.

As of now, area sown to paddy is marginally down at 7.94 lakh hectare. But the acreage will increase in the coming days as paddy transplanting has begun in most states, while Punjab and Haryana have just begun, he said.

Noting that it was the right time for normal sowing, Mr. Sandhu said pulses being rain fed crops, the early rains will benefit sowing of pigeon peas (tur), moong and urad.

The efforts are to increase area under tur and the government is advocating farmers to sow tur on rice-bands inter-cropped with soyabean, groundnut, sesamum and black gram especially in rainfed areas, he said.

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