Rabi sowing: Mustard emerges favourite

Sowing of all rabi crops has exceeded the season’s normal area, reaching 634.68 lakh hectares (lh) as on Friday, up by 1.5 per cent from year-ago. While wheat acreage is down by one per cent to 325.88 lh, mustard sowing is up by 22.5 per cent at record 88.54 lh.

The government has been banking on a higher mustard output to cool down edible oil prices in the country. Following 10.1 million tonnes (mt) mustard production in 2020-21, the government had set a target of 12.24 mt from an area of 75.8 lh for 2021-22. The total area under oilseeds reached 97.07 lh, up by 20.4 per cent.

According to the weekly update released by the Agriculture Ministry, all major mustard producers such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have reported significant expansion of the coverage under the oilseed. “We can expect a higher mustard crop in the coming months, which surely will have a softening effect on the (edible oil) prices,” Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said December 30.

While the overall decline in wheat area is not much, it is significant in the sense that except Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the shift towards mustard is clear in all other major growing states – Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar. The increase in Madhya Pradesh (by 0.56 lh) and Rajasthan (by 1.96 lh) may also be due to compilation error, experts said.

Winter-grown pulses

Overall winter-grown pulses acreage reached 152.62 lh, which is one per cent lower than 154.04 lh a year ago. The season’s normal area (five-year average) is 146.14 lh, whereas last year the acreage reached 167.38 lh. However, the area under gram and masur is higher from the year-ago period. Area under gram is up by two per cent at 107.69 lh and its is likely to be near last year’s coverage of 112 lh by the time sowing ends. Masur acreage, too, is up 1.7 per cent at 16.76 lh, but all other pulses such as urad, kulthi and fieldpeas have reported a fall in acreage.

Among nutri-cereals or coarse cereals, the area under maize has started picking up after a long gap, with the coverage reaching 14.8 lh, up by 14.8 per cent from 12.89 lh a year ago. Barley is a tad lower at 6.56 lh from 6.65 lh year-ago, data show. Overall, coarse cereals acreage has dropped 2.5 per cent to 45.05 lh,.