Sowing less wheat is a good sign, farmers are turning to oilseeds: Agriculture Commissioner


New Delhi, Jan 14 (PTI) Wheat sown across the country so far in the Rabi season 2021-22 has been marginally lower at 336.48 lakh hectares. Agriculture commissioner SK Malhotra on Friday said the fall during the season is a good sign as farmers are turning to oilseeds.

Increase in cultivation of oilseeds will help the country, which is heavily dependent on edible oil imports.

Malhotra told PTI that the sowing of rabi (winter) crops is almost complete and some areas may come under wheat where sugarcane was harvested late.

Sowing of Rabi crops like wheat starts in October and harvesting starts from April. Wheat was sown in 340.74 lakh hectare in the same period a year ago.

Malhotra said, “We have enough wheat stock in our godown. This is a good sign that the area under wheat is decreasing. Instead of wheat, farmers have turned to oilseeds, which is much needed.

As a result, the area under oilseeds cultivation has increased by 17.93 lakh hectare to 100.27 lakh hectare as on January 14 of the Rabi season of 2021-22 from a year ago period.

“The oilseeds area has increased by about 17.93 lakh hectares from the area where wheat was traditionally sown,” he said.

Malhotra said that since rapeseed-mustard is the main Rabi oilseed crop and is grown along with wheat. But this time rapeseed-mustard crop is being grown in most of the area under wheat cultivation.

According to the latest data released by the Agriculture Ministry, the area sown under rapeseed-mustard crop has increased to 90.45 lakh hectares so far in the Rabi season 2021-22, from 72.93 lakh hectares in the year-ago period.

In some parts where sugarcane was harvested late, sowing would start from mid-January, which is not normally done. He said that this area would also be added to the final sowing figures.

He said that sowing of Rabi crops would be completed by the end of January.

Besides oilseeds, the area sown under winter pulses has marginally increased to 160.20 lakh hectare so far this rabi season as against 160.13 lakh hectare in the year-ago period.

Among pulses, the area under gram, the main pulse crop of Rabi, has increased to 111.61 lakh hectare from 107.78 lakh hectare in the year-ago period.

The area under coarse and nutritious cereals declined by 1.09 lakh hectare to 47.82 lakh hectare, while that of rice declined by 4.50 lakh hectare to 19.82 lakh hectare during this period.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) had a stock of 330.12 lakh tonnes of wheat as on January 12.