All eyes on agriculture: August rainfalls hit 4-decade high; Kharif crop sowing tops last year mark

This year, agriculture is in focus because of the otherwise bleak economic outlook.

India has recorded August rainfalls at four decade high this year with the monsoon season remaining robust in 2020 despite occasional hiccups a few weeks before. “Monsoon rains continued a strong run, with rainfall in August now the strongest it has been in 44 years, according to IMD,” a report by Barclays said on Monday. The Kharif crop sowing has also crossed the average area sown mark and has also surpassed last year’s area sown. Crop sowing remains robust, and 100% of the total area normally sown has been covered to date. As of 21st August, the area sown was reported at nearly 106 million hectares which is significantly ahead of around 97.9 million hectares sown last year during the same period.

“With a few weeks remaining before the sowing season officially ends, India appears set to finish the monsoon season on a very strong note, probably the strongest in 26 years, based on current progress,” the report said. This year, agriculture is in focus because of the otherwise bleak economic outlook. A good harvest can mitigate the economic downturn even if it may not play an offsetting factor for India’s growth profile. GDP forecasts have been downgraded amid the pandemic, and the Indian economy is expected to contract 6.0% on-year in FY 20-21.

“Cumulative rainfall from 1 June to 30 August is now at a surplus of 9.5% versus the long-term average, with the country already receiving over 88% of its full-season rainfall,” the report said. So far, only three out of 36 geographical regions have received deficit rainfall. On the other hand 13 regions have received excessive rainfall. Overall, the distribution remains healthy. Reservoir storage levels, which also play a crucial role in agriculture, have also been promising as of 27 August 2020. Storage levels in 123 reservoirs that supply most of the canals in India, stood at 131.2 billion cubic meters which is 77% of capacity. The current level of storage is 102% of the year-earlier level and 119% of the average over the past 10 years.

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