Last year, the monsoon started with a delay of around four weeks, resulting in proportionate delay in sowing and a marginal loss in coverage area. "This year, therefore, the government does not want to take a risk, especially when the passing of the Food Security Bill requires higher foodgrain output. Hence, the government is looking at higher availability of seeds in case natural calamities this year result in the need for re-sowing," said a ministry official.
Against the assessed requirement of 6.25 million quintals of paddy seeds, the government wishes to ensure 6.92 million quintals in the kharif. Availability of pulses and oilseeds is officially set to rise 15 per cent and nine per cent, respectively.
And, against the total fertiliser sale of 24.4 mt in the 2012 kharif season, the ministry is working on being able to use 31.7 mt this year. The department of fertilisers recently said there was sufficient quantity for farmers' requirements. Urea stock for the ensuing kharif is likely to be 15.3 mt, against last year's sales of 13.6 mt.
The meteorological department is yet to make a monsoon forecast but non-government forecasters have estimated a normal rainfall this year.
The government also has a contingency plan in place, in case of crop damage due to drought or other calamities in parts of the country. The agriculture ministry has earmarked one per cent of the allocation for the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for a contingent crop programme. Unspent amounts can be be used for regular medium-term mitigation programmes.