New Delhi: With chances of El nino weather pattern receding, the Agriculture Ministry hopes that rainfall in September would be better than earlier forecast, helping in bridging the shortfalls in sowing area to some extent.

Early this month, India Meteorological Department (IMD) had pegged below normal monsoon in September due to likely warming of the Pacific Ocean, popularly known as the El Nino phenomenon.

"According to IMD's latest update to us, there will not be El nino effect on monsoon as chances of its occurrence is receding. Temperature in Pacific Ocean is okay and in September, rainfall is expected to be better than the IMD forecast," Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna said.

Monsoon in the country is deficient by 14 percent so far, which has affected sowing operations, particularly in four states --Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Total area under kharif crops is down at 32.9 million hectare as on August 24, against 34.2 million hectare in the same period last year.

"Overall, the gap in coverage is 5 percent of the normal area. Next month's rain will help cover the gap to some extent," Bahuguna said.

Monsoon has improved and sowing has picked up in some parts of the country, he said.

Asked if there would be a major impact on overall foodgrains production in 2012-13 crop year (July-June), Bahuguna said: "Total output might be slightly lower than the last year's 257.44 million tonnes".

"There would be some drop in production of pulses and coarse cereals. With respect to other crops, there should not be any problem," he added.

Till last week, main kharif crop rice was sown in 32.92 million hectare, against 34.20 million hectare in the same period last year, as per the Agriculture Ministry data.

While area under coarse cereals was down at 16.53 million hectare from 19 million hectare, pulses area was lower at 8.83 million hectare, against 9.98 million hectare in the year-ago period.

Area under oilseeds was also down at 16.43 million hectare from 16.99 million hectare in the review period.

Among cash crops, cotton acreage was slightly lower at 11.15 million hectare as on August 24, against 11.77 million hectare in the same period last year. However, area under sugarcane was up at 5.29 million hectare, against 5.06 million hectare in the review period.

El nino refers to abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in Pacific that disrupts weather pattern causing drought and floods in many regions of the world.


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