Poor monsoon pushes food output to 5-year-low

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 20, 2014 00:50 IST

India’s summer foodgrain output may to fall 7%, a five-year low, after a patchy start to this year’s June-September monsoon period, as per the government’s first of the four annual projections.

Total foodgrains from summer-sown crops are expected to be 120.27 million tonne, down from 129.24 million tonne last summer.

Production of rice, the biggest summer-sown staple, could end up falling 4% to 88.02 million tons, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh told reporters.

Poor monsoon in the first half of the rainy season caused delay in planting of major crops.

The rains revived sharply in August, improving crop health. The agriculture minister said the projections were “initial” and he expected total output to go up later.

Production of coarse cereals is seen dropping to 27.05 million tonne to 31.53 million tonne, while pulses would be lower at 5.2 million tonne from 6.02 million tonne earlier. The shortfall could stoke inflation of some commodities, especially vegetables, pulses and oilseeds. In July, India’s rice reserves stood at 21.2 million tonnes and stored wheat was at 39.8 million tones, more than double the government’s buffer requirements.

Summer rains are critical for India because two-thirds of Indians depend on farm income.

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