Kharif season 2023: Drought-like situation in 16% districts, no sowing in 2 million hectares

According to the IMD’s Drought Outlook, between July 6 and 12, severe dryness was observed in 5 per cent of the country and moderate dryness in 7 per cent  

By Raju Sajwan
Published: Saturday 15 July 2023
This picture is of the drought in Jharkhand in 2022. Photo: Vikas Chaudhary / CSE__

About 38 per cent of India’s districts have received below normal rainfall despite there being floods in several parts of northern India. Drought-like conditions have been created in 16 per cent of these districts, according to data released on July 14, 2023.

Consequently, Kharif crops have not been sown in two million hectares (mha) so far this year compared to last year.

The Drought Research Unit of the India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s Climate Research and Services, Pune, released the Standard Rainfall Index (SPI) on July 14.

Three per cent of the country’s area is extremely dry, five per cent is severely dry, eight per cent is moderately dry and 32 per cent is mildly dry, according to the SPI.

Also, according to the Weekly Drought Outlook released on the basis of the Aridity Anomaly Index, between July 6 and 12, 2023:

  • Four per cent of the country’s area (five per cent of districts) was severe arid (has severe dryness)
  • Seven per cent area (eight per cent of districts) was moderate arid (has medium dryness)
  • Sixteen per cent area was mild arid.

Twelve Indian states have received below normal rainfall according to IMD’s seasonal data from June 1 to July 14. Nine states have received large excess while four states have received excess rainfall.

Areas which receive more than 60 per cent of the normal rainfall are categorised as having received large access rain by the IMD. Similarly, areas that received 60 per cent below normal rainfall are categorised as having recorded large deficient rain.

Areas receiving 20 to 59 per cent less rainfall are classified as having recorded deficient rainfall. If an area gets 19 per cent more or less than normal rain, the IMD considers it to be normal rainfall.

According to the IMD, there are 26 districts in the country where the rainfall has been less than 60 per cent of the normal. These include six districts in Jharkhand, one in Odisha, two in West Bengal, three in Bihar, five in Uttar Pradesh, two each in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Manipur, and one each in Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. While 245 districts have received 20 to 59 per cent less rainfall than normal.

These figures show that once again there is a huge irregularity of rain in the country. This has directly affected the sowing of Kharif crops.

Data from the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare till July 14, 2023, shows that 58.64 mha had been sown in the country till the second week of July last year, but this year only 56.64 mha have been sown.

That is 3.43 per cent less than last year. Compared to 2021, the sowing area in 2023 has decreased by about 2.5 mha.

Compared to last year, despite the passage of nearly half of July, 3.04 mha in Maharashtra have not been sown. Similarly, 1.72 mha in Karnataka, 0.67 mha in Chhattisgarh, 0.44 mha in Odisha, 0.46 mha in Punjab, 0.27 mha in Telangana, 0.14 mha in West Bengal, 0.27 mha in Arunachal, 0.21 mha less have been sown in Assam.

But 3.16 mha more have been sown in Rajasthan this year. Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat are also among the states with high sowing.

Paddy is the major crop of the kharif season. Due to the rains last week, there has been a slight improvement in the figure of paddy transplantation, but it is also 6.13 per cent less than last year.

Some 2 mha less have been sown this year compared to 2021. Paddy was planted in 15.6 mha in India till the second week of July 2021. In 2022, it was planted in 13.1 mha. But in the current season, paddy has been planted in 12.32 mha.

Paddy is planted in about 39.95 mha in the Kharif season and it is believed that the yield of paddy planted during June to July 15 is good. However, due to heavy rains in this fortnight of July, the paddy that has been planted is also feared to not be safe.

Sowing of pulses has also declined by 13.28 per cent this year. Last year, pulses were sown in 7.72 mha. But this year, only 6.69 mha have been sown so far.

The biggest decline has been in arhar acreage (38.25 per cent). However, the area under moong has increased by 7.56 per cent. The area under oilseeds has also declined by 10.37 per cent as compared to last year. The biggest reduction has happened in sunflower and soybean.

Due to heavy rains in Rajasthan, there has been a huge jump in the area under pearl millet and sorghum cultivation in the state. Pearl millet has been sown 45.76 per cent more and sorghum 26.65 per cent more than last year.

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