NEW DELHI: Acreage of paddy could take total Kharif (summer crops) sown area to an all-time record level, but it’s the coverage of oilseeds which reported highest percentage increase this year — an encouraging sign for India which has to spend over Rs 70,000 crore annually on edible oil import to meet domestic demand.
Nearly 12% increase in acreage of oilseeds this season, as on Friday, can be attributed to a good hike in their minimum support price (MSP) and better procurement of last season’s produce during initial months of the Covid-19 pandemic phase.
All five summer sown oilseeds — Niger (hike of Rs 755 per quintal), Sesamum (hike of Rs 370 per quintal), Sunflower (hike of Rs 235 per quintal), Groundnut (hike of Rs 185 per quintal) and Soybean (hike Rs 170 per quintal) — had seen much higher increase in their respective MSP than paddy (hike of Rs 53 per quintal) when the agriculture ministry announced minimum support prices of Kharif crops at the beginning of the sowing season in June.
Though nearly 20 lakh hectares of crop area is estimated to be affected by floods this year in 14 states due to higher than normal rainfall in the country, the total acreage continues to be more than the sown area of last year even after deducting the flood-affected crop areas from its tally.
The states which shared the exact figures of their respective flood-affected crop area with the Centre till last week include Karnataka (3.49 lakh hectares), Assam (2.65 LH), Odisha (2.54 LH), Uttar Pradesh (1 LH), Andhra Pradesh (19,907 hectares) and Chhattisgarh (2,146 hectares). Details of other flood-affected states such as Bihar, West Bengal and Kerala are still awaited.
Hikes in MSPs of Niger and Sesamum were highest among all 17 crops whose support price was announced in June — a clear signal to farmers to go for sowing of such oilseeds which have potential to reduce India’s import bills in sync with the country’s ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ goal.

Sown area figures of all Kharif crops, released by the agriculture ministry on Friday, show that 12 states reported higher acreage of oilseeds this season compared to corresponding period last year with farmers in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka taking the lead.
“Timely prepositioning of inputs — seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, machinery and credit — by the government has made it possible for large coverage of Kharif crops even during the lockdown,” said Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, referring to the record sown area of 1,095 lakh hectares, on Friday.


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