Govt estimates show kharif foodgrain output to drop from last year’s record level
India’s foodgrain production is likely to be marginally lower this kharif season than last year’s record harvest, but this is unlikely to impact on prices because of adequate buffer stocks.india Updated: Sep 25, 2017 22:31 IST
India’s foodgrain production is estimated to decline by nearly four million tonnes to 134.67 MT this kharif season on account of poor rains as well as floods in some parts of the country.
According to the first advance estimates released on Monday by the agriculture ministry, production of all kharif foodgrains -- rice, pulses and coarse cereals -- is projected to decline from the record 138.52 MT last kharif. The decline, though marginal, raises fears of increase in food prices because it comes at a time when the economy is under strain.
Experts said the decline in production would lead to greater farmer distress which had led to a string of farm loan waivers by individual states.
Till last week, the ministry had maintained production would be closer to last year’s production for the season and had set a target of 137 MT.
The estimates show a decline of nearly 10% in kharif oilseeds and roughly 4% in coarse cereals. At the same time, production of sugar cane is pegged at 337.69 MT significantly higher than last year’s output of 306.72 million tones.
“The production of most of the crops is estimated to be higher as compared to their average production of the last five years,” a ministry official said.
Official sources also said rice production for the season is estimated at 94.48 MT, nearly 2 MT below last year’s figures while the total production of coarse cereals is expected to go down from 32.71 MT during the 2016-17 kharif cycle to 31.49 MT. Ministry sources said the decline will not lead to food security concerns due to the available buffer stocks.
“This is not unexpected. We had drought in many rain-fed areas,” Siraj Hussain, former secretary agriculture told HT. “The riddle, however, is that even the expectation of lower production has not led to increase in prices.”
That, he added, signals lower domestic demand and “a shortage of cash in rural areas.”