With a favourable monsoon this year, the agriculture sector has drawn the silver linings on the dark clouds of India’s severe economic stress. After a bumper rabi harvest, the acreage of the Kharif crops has skyrocketed to a lifetime high in the current year. The area sown for Kharif crops surged 7.2 per cent in only a year to 108.2 million hectares by 28 August 2020, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. The area sown this Kharif season is higher by almost two million hectares, compared to the normal acreage for the Kharif season, which is 106.6 million hectares. On top of it, the sown area is likely to rise further by 2.5 to 3.5 per cent this year.
Good pre-monsoon rainfall; the normal onset of monsoon and its rapid advancement over the country; and overall satisfactory progress of rainfall during the monsoon season so far contributed to the increase in area sown during this Kharif season, CMIE added. The acreage under all major pulses like arhar, green gram, and black gram has also crossed the normal acreage for the season.
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While the construction sector has halved in the first quarter and the manufacturing sector has nosedived amid the nationwide lockdown, the agriculture sector remained almost unaffected from the curse of the pandemic. The farm sector recorded a growth of 3.4 per cent against the overall GDP contraction of 23.9 per cent in Q1 FY21.
Meanwhile, the sharp expansion in acreage across most major crops and the strong revival in monsoon in August indicate a bumper harvest this season. However, continued heavy rains pose a threat to the Kharif crop. Rainfall at over 40 per cent above the long period average (LPA) was recorded during week-ended August 19 and week-ended 26 August, CMIE underlined. Also, the rising cases of coronavirus in rural areas also pose risk to the flourishing farm sector.