Rabi Acreage: Rabi acreage declines 3%, may hit overall 2023-24 foodgrain output

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NEW DELHI: Overall acreage of rabi (winter sown) crops has, so far, reported a decline of more than 3% this year over the corresponding period last year.
Though the high priority crops such as oilseeds and coarse cereals maintained the pace of sowing with their acreages being at par with the previous year’s sown areas, the dip is mainly reported in popular rabi crops, wheat (-3%) and pulses (-8%), leading to overall decline in acreage.
The decline in sown areas, having potential to impact the overall foodgrain output in 2023-24, can be attributed to below normal rainfall this year as it led to moisture deficit in soil and less water storage in reservoirs for winter crops.
Officials in the agriculture ministry that compiled the acreage data till December 15, however, believe that the gap can be bridged in the next two-three weeks and the overall sown areas of the rabi crops may ultimately touch the normal (average of last five years) sown area (648 lakh hectares).
According to the ministry’s latest data, the overall acreage of rabi crops stood at 567 lakh hectares this year as on December 15 compared to 587 lakh hectares during the corresponding period last year. Wheat has been sown in 284 lakh hectares this year compared to 293 lakh hectares in 2022. Similarly, pulses have been sown in 129 lakh hectares in 2023 compared to 140 lakh hectares last year.
In case of oilseeds including mustard and rapeseeds, the acreage this year (99 lakh hectares) is higher by 1 lakh hectares compared to 2022 but 15 lakh hectares more (18%) than its normal acreage. “It shows the high priority being given to oilseeds in order to reduce the country’s import bills to an extent,” said an official.
On pulses, the official said the less acreage can also be attributed to late harvesting of kharif crops including paddy and crop diversification.



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