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Kharif planting lags as monsoon rains taper off

Indian farmers have planted 49.9 million hectares with summer (kharif) crops, down 10.4% from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, as monsoon rains taper off after a strong start last month.

Farmers typically start planting summer-sown crops on June 1, when monsoon rains usually reach India. Planting then continues until early August.

Planting of rice, the key summer crop, was at 11.5 million hectares as of July 9 versus 12.6 million hectares in the previous year, the ministry said.

The area planted with cotton was at 8.6 million hectares versus 10.5 million hectares

Planting of overall oilseeds, including soybean was at 11.2 million hectares, down from 12.6 million hectares.

Soybean sowing was at 8.2 million hectares against 9.2million hectares last year. India is the world’s biggest buyerof cooking oils.

Sugarcane sowing in the world’s second biggest sugar producer was almost unchanged at 5.3 million hectares.

Farmers planted protein-rich pulse on 5.2 million hectaresagainst 5.3 million hectares in the previous year.

The figures are provisional and subject to revision as theJune-September monsoon season progresses.

India has received 5% below average rainfall since June 1, when the four-month rainy season began. Monsoon rains were 46% below average in the week to July 7.

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