India wheat crop
India wheat cropReuters

The total area sown under Rabi crops in India until January 27, 2017, reached 63.7 million hectares, up 6.2 percent from 60 million hectares sown for the same period during 2015-16, as per the sowing data released by the Ministry of Agriculture. 

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The data primarily substantiates the perception that demonetisation may not have had an immediate impact on agriculture. 

Crops that are grown during the winter season (October to March) are called Rabi crops, while those grown during the monsoon or rainy season are called Kharif crops. Major Rabi crops grown in India are wheat, oat, mustard and gram. Paddy (rice), maize, millet and cotton are Kharif crops.

For the current Rabi season, wheat transplantation has been reported for 31.6 million hectares, rice in 2.2 million hectares, pulses in 16 million hectares, coarse cereals in 5.7 million hectares and the area sown under oilseeds in 8.4 million hectares. 

On an year-over-year basis, the area sown under wheat rose by 7.9 percent over the year-ago period, pulses rose by 11.4 percent, while area sown for oilseeds rose by 6.7 percent. 

On the other hand, sown area for rice decreased by 15.1 percent and that under coarse cereals declined by 5.5 percent over the same period for the last fiscal year. 

India's agricultural growth is expected to register 4 percent growth in 2017-18 as against the average 0.5 percent in the first two years of the Narendra Modi government. Prime Minister Modi has previously announced his government's target to double farm income by 2022 and this year's Budget is likely to splurge on agriculture and rural India. 

Ajay Kakra, director of Agriculture and Natural Resources at PwC India, expects a slew of announcements for the sector in the Budget. These include:

  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana to bring in more land under irrigation
  • Private sector partnership towards conversion of urban waste to agricultural compost
  • Steps for digitisation of market linkages such as e-platform for agriculture marketing
  • Funds allocated for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is likely to increase from Rs 5,500 crore currently
  • Agriculture credit might increase to around Rs 10-12 lakh crore
  • Reducing interest rates for agriculture credit under different schemes
  • Schemes introduced in Union Budget 2016 such as Soil Health Card and opening up of around 2,000 soil and seed-testing centres are likely to be increased
  • Announcements towards subsidy on electricity charges and purchase of farm equipment for irrigation