Rice planting down 46% from last year, likely to pick up

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NEW DELHI: Indian farmers have planted 1.96 million hectares with summer-sown rice so far, farm ministry data showed on Friday, down 46% from last year mainly due to a weak start to the monsoon.
The outlook is better, however, as the monsoon has gathered steam. Summer rains have covered more than half of the country, with the rainfall deficit getting narrowed to 2% from 36%.
The planting has just started, and the area under rice could go up with a pick-up in monsoon rains, said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association.
Farmers generally start planting rice, corn, cotton, soybeans, sugarcane and peanuts, among other crops, from June, when monsoon rains typically arrive in India. Sowing usually lasts until July.
Monsoon rains play a crucial role in agriculture – which employs nearly 50% of India’s workforce – as nearly half of the country’s farmland lacks…

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