NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian farmers have planted 14.7 million hectares with summer-sown crops, down almost 10% from the previous year, the farm ministry’s data showed on Friday, as weak monsoon rains delayed sowing in most parts of the country.
The area planted with cotton was at 2.7 million hectares versus 3.2 million hectares the prior year.
Planting of rice, the key summer crop, was little changed at 2.7 million hectares. Corn planting was 1.1 million hectares against 1.2 million hectares.
Other crop plantings such as pulses, sugar cane and oilseeds like soybean were also down versus last year.
Farmers start planting their summer-sown crops from June 1, when monsoon rains are expected to reach India, where nearly half of farmlands lack irrigation.
The figures are provisional and subject to revision as updates arrive with the progress of the June-September monsoon season.
Monsoon rains were below average for the fourth straight week, with rainfall scanty over central and western parts of the country, raising concerns about major crop production and the impact on the nation’s economy.
Water levels in India’s main reservoirs were at 16% of their storage capacity in the week to June 27 against 18% a year earlier, according to the latest government data.
Latest reservoir levels are lower than the last 10 years’ average of 19%.
Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise