Early monsoon raises hopes of bumper Kharif crops

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New Delhi, Jun 17 (UNI) An early monsoon has raised hopes of bumper Kharif crops, especially rice, that is expected to rein in prices as well as inflation now at a seven-year high of 8.75 per cent.

The monsoon arrived in the national capital at the weekend, two weeks ahead of normal course.

The four-month rainy season normally starts around June one in Kerala.

The first half of June has experienced more than 40 per cent above the long-term average of rainfall boosting prospects of strong crop output.

Farmers sow rice, soybean and groundnut in June during the monsoon, which lasts until September. The monsoon usually covers the entire country by July and provides the main source of water for agriculture that contributes about 17 per cent to India's gross domestic product.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said rainfall between June 1-15 was 44 per cent above normal and the monsoon had spread across most of the country, barring some parts of Rajasthan.

The IMD has forecast that the monsoon this year would be near-normal and 99 per cent of the average rainfall between 1941 and 1990.

Agri-experts say that above average rainfall will help farmers growing oilseeds such as soyabean and groundnut, as well as rice and sugarcane, as it will raise soil moisture levels and help cut irrigation costs.

The area under soyabean, groundnut, bajra, jowar and pulses is expected to increase and the sowing and transplanting of these crops had either started or was about to begin.

The early monsoon has given farmers sufficient time for sowing and ensuring good harvests making good use of the above average rainfall. The farmers tend to cover lesser area if they are not sure of the required rainfall.

Monsoon crops depend solely on rainfall requiring not less than 30 cm per month of rains over the entire growing period. Nearly 45 per cent of the total rice area in India receives 30 cm per month of rainfall during at least two months (July and August) of the south-west monsoon and much less during other months.

Bajra and Jowar, Rice, Maize, Moong and other pulses, Groundnut, Chillies, Cotton, Soyabean, Sugarcane and Turmeric are mainly considered as the kharif crops.

With Lok Sabha elections scheduled for early next year, the government has taken a number of steps, including export curbs and cuts in import duties on a number of food items, to boost domestic supplies.

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