New Delhi: India`s monsoon rains turned average last week and may pick up over areas that grow cane, oilseed and cotton in northern and western regions next week, weather department officials said, helping most summer crops into their last leg of planting.
That could mean India, one of the world`s biggest producers and consumers of grains, has a record harvest this year, a government agricultural expert said.
During the last week, rains increased in intensity over areas growing soybean, groundnut and cotton while they eased in the northwest and the northeast regions.
The rains, which came in heavily at the start of the June to September season, had slowed to below average in the previous week, allowing the sowing of summer crops to speed up.
Most crops except rice are now in their last leg of planting in the country, where 55 percent of farmland is without irrigation and relies on monsoon rains.
Seven weeks into this year`s monsoon, rains have so far been average or above, suggesting India will avoid a drought. This will mean higher rural incomes in the world`s second most populous country, improving sales of everything from cars and gold to refrigerators.
"The country rarely gets such a kind of well-distributed rains as has happened so far this year," said JS Sandhu, the country`s farm commissioner.
The heavy early rains did little damage in crop-producing regions but in some parts of northern and eastern India, flash floods and torrential downpours killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands.
In pockets of south and western regions which had drought last year, more intense rains have led to higher coverage this year for crops such as corn, pulses and oilseeds.
Sandhu said the planting for most of the crops, except rice, would finish by the month`s end, but rice sowing in some areas of the northeast region could stretch to August, as the areas have received less rainfall so far.
"Rice sowing is on everywhere with monsoon rains," he said.
Farm officials said output prospects for crops including soybean and corn appeared strong as most of these crops have already been sown on higher acreage than last year.
"The foograin output could surpass the record level that was witnessed two years ago, if the current favourable conditions of monsoon rains continue," Sandhu said.
India recorded the highest ever food grain production in the 2010/11 crop year with 257 million tonnes, including 104 million tonnes of rice, the main grain crop of the South Asian country.