Pulses area has increased by 39 percent to 90.17 lakh hectare so far in the ongoing the 2016-17 kharif season on the back of good monsoon rains and higher support price and bonus offered to farmers. The area under pulses has increased sharply by 87 percent in Karnataka to 14.09 lakh hectare as of today, from 7.53 lakh hectare when compared to the year-ago period, as per the data released by the Agriculture Ministry. Pulses area stood at 64.69 lakh hectare in the year-ago period. Farmers have taken pulses planting in a big way this time buoyed by sharp hike in the support price by up to Rs 425 per quintal as well as high retail price. Sowing of paddy and other kharif crops begin with the onset of southwest monsoon from June and harvesting starts from October. Monsoon rains are higher by 1 percent. The Met Department has forecast better than normal rains for the four-month season ending September. As per the ministry’s data, all kharif crops including pulses and paddy have been covered in 65 percent of the total farm area of 1,062 lakh hectare. Out of which, paddy – the main kharif crop – has been sown in 183.06 lakh hectare so far this season, marginally up from 182.38 lakh hectare in the year-ago period. Acreage of coarse cereals has also increased slightly by 3.46 percent to 131 lakh hectare from 126.27 lakh hectare, while area under oilseeds has gone up by 4 percent to 149.16 lakh hectare from 143 lakh hectare in the said period. In case of cash crops, the acreage of sugarcane, jute and cotton remained lower than the last year’s period. Cotton acreage is down by 14 percent to 86.86 lakh hectare from 99.52 lakh hectare, while sugarcane area is lower at 45.41 lakh hectare from 47.40 lakh hectare in the said period, the data showed. “In view of better progress of sowing of kharif crops, if rainfall conditions during the remaining period of the current monsoon season continues to be favourable as per prediction of IMD, this year’s production scenarios of kharif crops should be better than the last year,” Minister of State for Agriculture Sudarshan Bhagat said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. The country produced around 252 million tonnes of foodgrains in 2015-16 and 2014-15 crop years (July-June) on account of two consecutive drought years. However, the government is targeting a record production of 270 million tonnes in current 2016-17 crop year on hopes of better rains.