NEW DELHI: The government has forecast a robust 8% growth in farm output this year after bountiful monsoon rains, raising prospects of stronger rural demand for consumer goods, automobiles and gold, and strong economic growth. The strong growth comes after a drought ravaged the fields for two years and heightened rural distress, but the expected output betters the record production of 2013-14 by 2.6%.
“Higher food grain production is good news for economy especially rural. This should help stabilise prices," said Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.
However, he said it was important to wait for the rabi harvest to get a clear picture. The rabi crop is progressing well, but it can suffer if there is unseasonal rain or hailstorms on the eve of the harvest. Gulati said government must ensure that official agencies procure crops if prices tumble.
Total foodgrain output will be 271.98 million tonnes, according to the agriculture ministry’s second advance estimates of major crops. The first advance estimate was issued in September 2016. The third estimate will be released by May and the fourth one by August.
“As a result of good rainfall during monsoon 2016 and various policy initiatives taken by the government, the country has witnessed record foodgrain production in the current year,” the agriculture ministry said.
The estimate is 20.41million tonnes or 8.11% higher production at 251.57 million tonnes during 2015-16 and even higher than the record output of 265.04 million tonnes in the 2013-14 crop year. “The current year’s production is higher by 14.97 million tonnes than the previous five years’ (2011-12 to 2015-16) average production of foodgrain,” the ministry said. The government expects rice production to reach 108.86 million tonnes this crop year, 4.26% higher than last year’s output and breaking the previous record production of 106.65 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14.
Wheat output is pegged at 96.64 million tonnes, an increase of 4.71% from the previous year. The country had its highest wheat production in 2013-14 at 95.85 million tonnes, while output was 92.29 million tonnes last year. Output of pulses is projected at 22.14 million tonnes compared with 16.35 million tonnes in the previous year –– an increase of over 35.41%.
Production of oilseeds, including groundnut, castor, sesamum, niger, mustard, linseed, safflower, sunflower and soyabean, saw an increase of 33.04% at 33.596 million tonnes.
The government predicts cotton production to increase 8.34% to 32.51 million bales. Each bale weighs 170 kg. “Despite lower area coverage during 2016-17, higher productivity of cotton has resulted in higher production of 32.51 million bales (of 170 kg each) compared to 30.01 million bales during 2015-16,” the ministry said.
Coarse cereal production is estimated at 44.34 million tonnes, higher than 38.52 million tonnes during 2015-16. It is higher than the previous record production of 43.40 million tonnes achieved during 2010-11by 0.94 million tonnes.
Production of sugarcane is estimated at 309.98 million tonnes which is lower by 38.46 million tonnes than the last year’s production of 348.45 million tonnes.