Rabi crop acreage down, Pulses hit worst

The Rabi cropping season of 2023–2024 is almost completed. This year area under Rabi crops is down by 1.23% as compared to the previous year’s Rabi season, with pulses having the lowest acreage this year among the Rabi crops. The decrease in acreage is probably the result of a shift in the rainfall pattern.

Data from the Agriculture Ministry shows that till the 05th Jan 2024, Rabi crops were sown on 65.49 million hectares, dropped by 1.23% from 66.31 million hectares during 2022-23.

This season has brought major changes in pulses acreage. Pulses area dropped by 5.1% as compared to last year’s area. According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture on 05th Jan 2024, pulses sowing area is 14.81 million hectares, against 15.61 million hectares during the previous season. Gram cultivation has been most impacted among pulses. This year, Gram/Chickpea area is 10.01 million hectares, down by 6.99% from 10.76 million hectares at same time during the previous year. In addition, Moong/Green grams and Urad/Black gram areas were also reduced by 15.3% and 15.4% respectively as compared with last year’s area. However, the area under Lentil and Pea two other main pulses of the Rabi season increased by 4.89% and 3.32% respectively.

Additionally, Rabi season Paddy area also reduced by 10.19%. Despite being cultivated in a limited number of regions during the Rabi season, paddy covers 1.80 million hectares against 2.0 million hectares at the same time last year. The major dent to the Paddy area is in Andhra Pradesh state where Paddy acreage is down by 40.3% as compared to last year due to less rainfall during Monsoon season.

Wheat is the primary crop grown in the Rabi season. This year’s area under Wheat is almost similar to last year, as on 05th Jan wheat acreage is 33.17 million hectares as compared to 33.18 million hectares during last year. Rapeseed/ Mustard acreage this Rabi season has increased by 2.22%. As of 5th Jan, the area under Mustard is 9.89 million hectares as compared to 9.67 million hectares during the previous year.

Among the states, Rabi sowing is most impacted in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Telangana, and Gujarat. During the current Rabi season, the area under Rabi crops in Andhra Pradesh has decreased by 28.51%, one of the main states for Rabi season Paddy crop.

The area under Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan decreased by 18%, 9.36%, and 4.85% respectively. In Karnataka, the area under Rabi crops is 2.08 million hectares, against 2.54 million hectares during the previous year till 05th Jan. Similarly, in Maharashtra, 4.95 million hectares of crops were planted this year as opposed to 5.46 million hectares in 2022. Whereas in Rajasthan Rabi crop acreage is 9.07 million hectares, as compared with last year’s area under Rabi crop is 9.54 million hectares.

Based on data from the India Meteorological Department, every district of Karnataka and Maharashtra received deficient or large deficient rainfall during the South-West Monsoon. This is one of the main reasons of lower acreage under Rabi crops this year. This year cumulative seasonal rainfall during the monsoon season over the country was 815 mm, down by 6% from normal rainfall of 865 mm.

The government is concerned about less sowing during the Rabi season especially area under pulses. This year the area under pulses has decreased in both Kharif and Rabi cropping seasons. The government is concerned about rise in pulses price as general elections approaching in Mid 2024, since there is possibility that pulses production will decline due to lower acreage, which result in a further increase in pulses price.