With half of India hit by drought and the country's food grain output expected to slump by millions of tonnes, the central government has sent detailed advisories to states on ways to maximise food production during the coming rabi season.
"The focus is on early district-level rabi planning. Consultants have been sent to a number of states to help them make district plans and guide them on various technical aspects," the agriculture ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
"States have also been advised to explore the possibility of increasing coverage under wheat, boro/summer rice and pulses. The need to take necessary steps to raise productivity of various crops has also been highlighted," the ministry said.
Since wheat contributes over 73 per cent to rabi crop production, stress is being laid on increasing wheat production substantially, the statement added.
"One effective measure suggested for raising wheat yield is early sowing, by the end of November, and the other is to bring maximum area under high yielding and high temperature-tolerant varieties," the statement added.
In the case of rice, "the second most important rabi crop", the stress is on planting in new areas, adoption of an improved package of practices, and planting hybrids that have high-yield potential.
Noting that another important rabi food grain, rabi jowar, has low productivity, the ministry said: "This is proposed to be tackled by encouraging the cultivation of new hybrids and high yielding cultivars and best possible agronomic practices."
States have also been asked to encourage the use of organic manures and micro-nutrients because "soil fertility has been decreasing due to low carbon content and increasing micronutrient deficiency".
This, the ministry said, was more prevalent in the northern states.
"The final strategy for rabi will be evolved after receiving inputs from the states and in consultation with the concerned central ministries over two days beginning tomorrow (Thursday)," the release added.