Fall in food production likely as floods, drought hit 18 states this monsoon
With the area under rice cultivation falling from 37.2 million hectares in 2016 to 36.6 million hectares this year, preliminary estimates predict a drop in crop output. The government, however, says that it is prepared to handle such an eventuality.india Updated: Sep 04, 2017 20:06 IST
India witnessed a sharp rise in weather-related calamities this year, with farming in as many as 18 states across the country being affected by floods, heavy rain or drought.
Top officials cited data compiled by the ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare to state that nearly four million hectares of agricultural land have fallen victim to the vagaries of nature this monsoon, resulting in a drop in area under cultivation for crops such as rice, pulses and oilseeds.
Nearly 9 lakh hectares of rice and over 5 lakh hectares each of pulses and oilseeds have been hit by extreme weather conditions. Ministry data showed that the total area sowed with rice, pulses, oilseeds and coarse cereals shrunk by 29 lakh hectares while that for cotton, jute and sugarcane went up.
Floods hit Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh this monsoon, and another five states – Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Mizoram – were pounded by heavy rainfall.
The southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Telangana, on the other hand, witnessed drought conditions or dry spells.
Despite this, officials believe the total agricultural output for the year will not suffer but – in the best case scenario – even touch last year’s levels. “Rice production may go down, but that will not affect our food security. We have buffer stocks,” a ministry official said.
While agriculture secretary SK Pattanayak admitted to certain “inter-crop concerns”, he dismissed fears of an impending crop shortage in the market. “Flood damage will not significantly affect our production targets,” he said.
These assurances, however, may not be able to completely dispel fears of heightened farmer distress and a sharp spike in food prices due to low production in the coming months. The government declares agricultural figures for the entire kharif season, masking both production drops that spike prices in the open market and gluts that leave farmers floundering.
The 2016-17 season resulted in foodgrain production of up to 138 million tonnes.