New Delhi: Monsoon rains have covered the entire country though it is still deficient by 23 percent and the situation in Karnataka and Maharashtra is worrisome, the Government said on Wednesday.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar held a meeting here with India Meteorological Department (IMD) Director General L S Rathore and Food Minister K V Thomas to review the monsoon situation.

Monsoon still 23 pc deficient

Briefing reporters, Rathore said: "Rainfall situation has improved but it is still minus 23 percent. Monsoon is covering entire country on Wednesday with parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan receiving heavy rains".

Later, Pawar said the situation had improved during the last ten days but there was still a shortfall.

Karnataka, Maharashtra receive scanty monsoon

"For the country as a whole, the rainfall situation is definitely improving vis-a-vis 10 days back. But the worrisome areas are Karnataka and central Maharashtra," the Minister said.

The two states have received scanty rains so far and the situation has not improved to the satisfactory level, he said. Pawar pointed out that "there is a cause of concern about coarse cereals (bajra, jowar and maize) production and drinking water supply in these two states".

Overall, Pawar noted there is no cause for concern over paddy, cotton, sugarcane and oilseed as sowing operations are expected to pick up.

No adverse effect on inflation

He also did not foresee any adverse impact of deficient rains on availability and prices of food items, particularly, fruits and vegetables.

The south-west monsoon had hit Kerala on June 5, but made slow progress affecting sowing of major Kharif crops such as paddy, some pulses like moong, oilseeds and coarse cereals.

The area under these crops are so far less than last year. Monsoon rains are crucial for farm sector as a mere 40 percent of cultivable area is under irrigation.

With improvement in monsoon rains, Rathore noted the sowing of paddy, soyabean and groundnut would gather momentum in the coming days.

Pawar said "sowing of rice is in progress. There are good rains in Orissa and Chattisgarh and there should not be any problem in paddy area".

The planting of groundnut and soyabean is expected to improve as there were good rains in parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in the last two days, the Minister added.

Cereals sowing hit by scanty rains

"Only problem is coarse cereals. The coarse cereals situation is not good. About 50 percent sowing operation is over. Still there is time," Pawar said adding the sowing operations could go on upto first week of August.

Some parts of Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat and central Madhya Pradesh have also received scanty rains so far, Rathore said.

"Rains will now shift to Himalayas, Terai and north east region," the IMD chief said.

India had produced a record 252.56 million tonnes of foodgrains in 2011-12 crop year (July-June) on good monsoon last year. Of this, coarse cereals producton stood at 41.91 million tonnes.


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