India’s output of rice is likely to be 90.6 million tonnes in 2015-16, which is marginally lower than last year’s, the government’s first of the four quarterly projections released on Wednesday shows.
The total foodgrain production from summer-sown crops is likely to drop 1.8% from a year ago to 124.05 million tonnes due to a sharply lower output of some crops after a poor monsoon and a partial drought. The estimates are likely to be revised again. A crippling drought has gripped four states while several others are struggling with tough farm conditions, hardening the government’s job of easing a rural distress and taming retail prices of food items.
Karnataka has been the first state to declare a drought in almost the entire state (27 of 30 districts) while almost half of Maharashtra has been parched, although the state hasn’t notified a drought yet. Over a third of the areas in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are under stress.
This is a back-to-back drought and could be one of the worst in three decades. Last year, a 12% below-normal monsoon crimped food output by almost 5%.
Overall, as the monsoon season draws to a close, nearly half of the country has received below-normal rains, leaving many states grappling with pockets of battered farms.
A preliminary analysis shows crops, such as onions, tur (a type of widely consumed pulses) and coarse cereals, apart from cotton, will take a hit, an official told HT on the condition of anonymity.
He said the government was speeding up imports to deal with the crisis and the first consignment of imported pulses would land within the next eight days.