Mumbai: The less-than-expected rains in the country is likely to bring down the total pulses production this year, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said on Friday. The country had produced 17.02 million tonnes (MT) of pulses in the 2011-12 crop year (July-June), slightly lower than the annual demand of around 18-20 MT.

"The June rainfall was not satisfactory for agriculture and water reservoirs. This could affect the overall production of pulses in 2012-13," Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

The key producing states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh received less rainfall during June, which resulted in delay in sowing of pulses, he said. The monsoon rains have been 31 percent below average up to July 2. As a result, sowing of major kharif crops have been affected.

As per the Agriculture Ministry data, sowing of paddy, coarse cereals and oilseeds is lagging behind as on today, but pulses has picked up and has been covered in 13.04 lakh hectares as on today, up by 66,000 hectares in the same period last season.

Hoping that the shortfall of rains witnessed in June is likely to be covered up in July and August, Pawar said "the situation is not worrisome" as of now for rain-fed paddy crop.

The delay in rains in Punjab and Haryana may not affect paddy crop as these two states depend on irrigation. Whereas in rice-growing eastern states -- Odisha and Chattisgarh, there was sufficient rains, he added.

The sowing of Kharif crops like paddy, pulses and oilseeds begins from April but gains momentum after the onset of South-West monsoon in June.

Monsoon rains, crucial for the country's agriculture as only 40 percent cultivable area is irrigated. Besides, higher agri incomes on account of good crop push up economic growth.

Due to good monsoon, rice production stood at record 103.41 MT last year, out of which 90.75 MT were grown in Kharif.

(Agencies)

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