Crop Sowing to Gather Pace as Monsoon Hits Southern Indian Coast

A farmer uses cows to plough his field during the sowing season in Bihar, India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Crop Sowing to Gather Pace as Monsoon Hits Southern Indian Coast

The southwest monsoon, which waters more than half of India’s farmland, reached the mainland two days later than usual, with the sowing of major crops such as rice and soybeans seen gathering momentum in the coming weeks.

The monsoon hit the southern coast on Thursday, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the India Meteorological Department, told Bloomberg by phone. It will further advance to some more parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu states in the next two days, he said. The monsoon typically arrives in Kerala on June 1.

The June-September rainy season is critical for India’s crop output and economic growth at a time when the country is battling the world’s worst outbreak of Covid-19. The virus has spread to rural areas, where about 70% of the nation’s more than 1.3 billion people live. Agriculture accounts for 18% of its economy.

Farmers generally wait for the monsoon to start before they begin planting food grains, cotton, soybeans, peanuts and sugarcane. Any deficit in rains during the early part of the season could delay sowing and reduce harvests, even if the monsoon gathers pace later.

The meteorological department updated its April forecast on Tuesday and said that annual rainfall during the monsoon season would be 101% of the long-term average. Last year’s monsoon rain was 9% higher than normal, and it was 10% more than the long-term average in 2019. Bountiful rains helped crops and boosted India’s food grain output to a record in 2020-21.

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