India is likely to post record high food-grain production this kharif season, with monsoonrains being normal in main crop-producing states, the government’s initial estimates show.
Production of rice, sugarcane and oilseed is expected to be higher than last year, show the first advance estimate of the agriculture ministry, released on Wednesday. Coarse cereals, pulses and cotton are expected to see a fall in output.
Production of kharif crops that are cultivated during the rainy season is expected to be 141.59 million tonnes in 2018-19, which is 0.61%, or 0.86 million tonnes, more than last year’s 140.73 million tonnes, which is the highest so far. This will be 11.94 million tonnes more than the average production for the five years through 2016-17.
These are preliminary estimates and will undergo revisions based on further feedback from states, the government said. Cumulative rainfall in the country during the monsoon season till date has been 9% lower than the Long Period Average. However, rains in north-west and central India and southern Peninsula have been normal and hence most of the major crop producing states have witnessed normal rainfall, the government said.
Production of rice, the main kharif crop, is estimated to be 99.24 million tonnes, or 1.78% more than the previous year.
“The bumper production is a good sign for exports,” said BV Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters’ Association. The excess production can be exported to China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, he said.
The next round of paddy planting will now take place in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and “we expect 13-14 million tonnes of rice more production by February”, Rao said.
The output of kharif pulses such as tur, moong and urad is estimated at 9.22 million tonnes, less than last year’s production of 9.34 million tonnes.
Bimal Kothari, vice chairman of the India Pulses & Grains Association, said prices were ruling below the minimum support price (MSP), discouraging farmers from planting pulses. "Tur MSP is Rs 58.50 a kg while the government is selling at Rs 35-37 a kg. Same is the case for urad and moong. Prices will now remain stable and government has to ensure prices reach the MSP level to help farmers. Ban on imported pulses should continue,” he said.
Production of oilseeds such as groundnut, soyabean and castorseed is estimated to increase 5.66% over the previous year to 22.19 million tonnes, the government said. “Soyabean is definitely high but groundnut is down. The government now needs to ensure that farmers gets the price so as to ensure higher planting this rabi season,” said BV Mehta, executive director at the Solvent Extractors Association.
Sugarcane production is estimated at 383.89 million tonnes, higher by 6.99 million tonnes from the last year.
With area under cotton being 0.89% lower this kharif season, the government estimates production to fall to 32.48 million bales (of 170 kg each) from 34.88 million bales in 2017-18. However, Atul Ganatra, president of the Cotton Association of India, said there could be a revision in production figures as the season progresses. The industry said the crop could be 33-35 million bales, which would still be lower than the previous year when it had estimated production at 36.5 million bales.
Total production of coarse cereals has decreased to 33.13 million tonnes as compared to 33.89 million tonnes in 2017-18. Production of maize is expected to be 21.47 million tonnes, which is higher by 1.23 million tonnes from last year, show the government estimates.