After a record run in two consecutive years, foodgrains production is likely to decline this year owing to the deficient southwest monsoon during the 2012-13 kharif season. This adversely impacted the output of pulses, coarse cereals and oilseeds, with a bearing on their price levels.

But what may bring down the overall output is the slightly lower area sown under rabi wheat, rice, coarse cereals and minor oilseeds. The crops that are under stress include minor oilseeds, jowar and bajra, while pulses remain an area of concern.

With rabi sowing complete, the picture has become clearer now and it is expected that against an output of 257.44 million tonnes last year, the country will be lucky if it can reap a harvest of 250 million tonnes this year.

Kharif production was lower by 12.6 million tonnes this year. Rabi crops will be harvested in March-April.

The States that have suffered the most due to rain deficit are Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

Rice output will be hit in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh because of water deficiency, while rabi sowing is down in Maharashtra and parts of Andhra Pradesh, official sources said.

The good news is that the estimate of the highest ever foodgrains production of last year at 257.44 million tonnes may be better by about one per cent in the final estimates that will be released shortly. “The loss in kharif output will be lower than the initial estimate of nearly 10 per cent,” Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna told journalists here on Monday.

The last rabi wheat output was an all-time record of 93.9 million tonnes. “This year, it may be close to that,” he said, adding that the fine weather available for wheat in January-March of 2012 was the “best ever” in the last 22 years. According to him, the area under rabi wheat this season is 0.4 hectares lower than last year, but higher by 4.1 lakh hectares if the average of the last five years is taken into account.

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