The bad news: With drought affecting 246 districts — 46-47 per cent of India — rice production may go down by 10 million tonnes, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said on Wednesday.
The good news: India has enough food reserves to meet any shortfall for 13 months.
The fall in rice output works out to as much as 70 per cent of what the country holds as buffer or emergency stock.
Foodgrain demand for 2008-09 has been estimated at 219.01 million tonnes, as against 233.88 million tonnes produced, according to government data.
India currently needs 7.2 million tonnes of rice as buffer and has about 14.1 million tonnes. The current buffer for wheat is 7 million tonnes while the country has 15 million tonnes.
“I don’t foresee a situation where we will need to import,” Abhijit Sen, Planning Commission member in charge of food, told HT. The Centre is likely to release more foodgrains in the open market and has asked states to impose a 50 per cent levy on rice millers to boost procurement when the current crop is harvested.