India's rice output may slump by 17 million tonnes in 2009-10 as drought in about half the country, including producing belts has jeopardised the sowing of this crop, a report by the US Department of Agriculture said.
"2009-10 rice production is forecast downward to 82 million tonnes.... This is 17 million tonnes below the 2008-09 record production of 99.2 million tonnes," the USDA report said.
"This revision is due to further deterioration in the drought situation in several parts of the country," it added.
Poor rainfall distribution in several parts of the country during July and August adversely affected the sowing of summer-sown (Kharif season) paddy, pulling down areas under the crop by a whopping 62 lakh hectares.
Most of the paddy sowing is usually over by the second week of August. The country as a whole witnessed 25 per cent less rains till August 26.
Though late rains in September have raised hopes of winter-sown crops, the prospect of paddy looks hardly better as over 80 per cent of the crop is produced during the Kharif season.
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had last month said rice production may slump by a million tonnes this Kharif due to poor monsoon.