India's foodgrain output could exceed last year's record of 279.51 million tonne (MT) buoyed by favourable monsoon, higher MSP and likely increase in crop productivity, an official said.
Agriculture Secretary Shobhana Pattanayak exuded confidence that sowing, which is lagging behind so far, will pick up in the coming weeks with wide coverage of rainfall in all growing states.
Moreover, farmers will now be enthused to bring more acreage on the back of sharp increase in the minimum support price (MSP) for all 14 kharif crops announced last week.
The sowing area of kharif crops like paddy is currently lower than the last year because of deficit rains in some parts of the country, he added.
Sowing of kharif crops begins from June with the onset of southwest monsoon and harvesting takes place from October onwards. "The shortfall in acreage will be made up in the coming weeks. We will definitely exceed last year's production," Pattanayak told .
This year's situation is "much better", and is not like what was witnessed in 2014-15 and 2015-16, he said.
Till last week, area sown to all kharif crops was lagging behind by 14.17 per cent at 333.76 lakh hectare, as against 388.89 lakh hectare in the year-ago period, as per the ministry's data.
Rice acreage was down 15 per cent at 67.25 lakh hectare as against 79.08 lakh hectare, while that of pulses by 20 per cent at 33.60 lakh hectare as against 41.67 lakh hectare in the said period.
Even area under coarse cereals was down 13.45 per cent at 57.35 lakh hectare as against 66.27 lakh hectare, acreage of oilseeds was lower 13.42 per cent at 63.59 lakh hectare from 73.45 lakh hectare in the said period.
Among cash crops, area sown to cotton was down 24 per cent at 54.60 lakh hectare till last week of the 2018-19 kharif season when compared with 71.82 lakh hectare in the year-ago period.
According to IMD, the overall rainfall till July 11 is likely to be normal to above normal over south Peninsular India and below normal over remaining parts of the country.
From July 12 onwards for a week, the rainfall is very likely to increase over most parts of the country outside northeast and the adjoining east India, where it is likely to be below normal, it added. Southwest monsoon covered the entire country on June 29, two weeks earlier than the normal date.