Even as farmers protested, rabi coverage in India increased 9% this year
Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and UP experience the largest increase; farmers who got agitated say they took turns protesting and tending to crops
How has the agricultural sector – which directly or indirectly employs nearly 60% of India’s population – fared over the past year, as farmers’ unions participated in a sit-in a year at the Delhi border?
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the total area covered during the current rabi season is up 25.40 lakh hectares (as of December 3), mainly due to an increase (18 , 92 lakh ha) of oilseed and wheat crop area (7.24 lakh ha).
Hannan Mollah, general secretary of the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha Association (AIKS), said: “The unrest has not affected production. Protesters came here in batches, while others tended to the crops in the villages during the sowing and harvest season. The 75-year-old activist is part of the highest decision-making body of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella organization of protesting unions.
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Rakesh Tikait, the 52-year-old leader of Union Bharatiya Kisan who led protesters at the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border in Ghazipur, echoed the claim. Farmers were to simultaneously keep “one eye on the protest and one on their field,” he said. “They have to look after their crops – but are always ready to return to protest sites whenever necessary.”
Increase in rapeseed and mustard feed
Now is the winter sowing season. Rabi crops – wheat, barley, peas, gram and mustard – are sown in late monsoon or early winter. Kharif crops, such as rice, bajra and groundnuts, are sown at the start of the rainy season. These crops have just been harvested (September-October).
According to a report from the CMIE (Center for Monitoring the Indian Economy): “The area cultivated in rabi increased by 8.9% on November 19, 2021, compared to the area planted in the same period a year ago. year. The sown area reached 26.1 million ha. This was 41.7% of the normal 62.5 million hectares cultivated during the rabi season.
However, he also noted: “The overall increase in the area sown (up to this date) has been driven by the strong expansion of the area cultivated with rapeseed and mustard. The area seeded to other major crops such as wheat and grams increased, but that of coarse grains remained below the area seeded last year.
The report added that as of November 19, the area planted to wheat increased 9.6% year-on-year to 8.8 million hectares. Wheat is the largest crop grown during the rabi season. It represents almost half of the total area seeded this season.
The Agriculture Ministry statement said that until December 3, coverage of around 200.66 lakh ha for wheat was reported, compared to 193.42 lakh ha in the corresponding period last year. , up 7.24 lakh ha.
States that shone
Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh are among the states that have recorded larger areas under cultivation, which are generally thought to have been the most part of the farmer’s agitation. On the other hand, smaller cultivated areas have been reported in Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, etc.
Meanwhile, for rice, coverage of around 9.74 lakh ha was reported (as of December 3), compared to 9.38 lakh ha in the corresponding period last year, up 0. 36 lakh ha.
And for pulses, coverage of around 113.98 lakh ha has been reported (through Dec. 3), according to the Ministry of Agriculture, compared to 113.48 lakh ha in the corresponding time of year. last, marking an increase of 0.50 lakh ha.
“The protests have never taken farmers away from their fields. They take turns and keep their commitments as responsible citizens and cultivators, ”Mollah said. However, he said, other factors affected them. “Fertilizer prices have skyrocketed. There is a serious shortage of fertilizers in the market, ”he said.
Soaring fertilizer prices
The CMIE report also mentioned that “the shortage of fertilizer supplies has become a matter of concern this rabi season, especially in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana.” Fertilizer shortages started to appear at the start of the Kharif season, he added.
Sales of diammonium phosphate (DAP) – used more commonly in the states during early planting of rabi crops – were down 21.4%. “The international price of DAP has been almost double the levels of a year ago since April 2021,” CMIE said. “It increased import costs. Its adequate availability could have accelerated the rate of sowing.
Add to that the sales of urea, which fell 34%, and potassium chloride (MoP), which fell 59.4% in October 2021 from corresponding levels last year.
Rising fuel prices are also affecting the farming community. Farmer heads say a slight drop after the price escalation will not bring any respite.
They also highlighted reports that due to unexpected rains, major crops like basmati rice, sugarcane, potato and peas have been hit hard. The rains continued this time beyond the conventional southwest monsoon period which ends in late September.
In the Punjab, paddy is harvested at the end of October. This is done to clear the fields in time for the wheat sowing. This year, the state’s paddy crop suffered from high winds and a late end of the monsoon. According to figures released by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the state recorded about 22% more precipitation than average.
Rains have been reported to have damaged standing rice crops over thousands of acres in various parts of the state, also as the paddy harvest season was about to peak.
Figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture reflect that the harvest of kharif crops like rice or the sowing of rabi crops like wheat remain mostly unchanged despite the turmoil or vagaries of nature.
Citing official statistics, leaders of the farmers’ unions stressed that the unrest “will continue until 2024 (when Lok Sabha polls are scheduled) if necessary, but compatriots will never face a shortage” in as regards the products (subsequently, the farmers ended the demonstration).
“After all, we are called annadata (food suppliers), right? Joked a farmer demonstrating at the Singhu border.