Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday said that the kharif production at 114.63 million tonnes for 2010-11 crop year was “comfortable.”

“The output is better than last year which was a drought year, but lower than 2008-09, which was a normal year.”

“The kharif production looks good. Area under crops such as paddy, pulses, cotton and sugarcane is more than last year,'' he told journalists after the Agriculture Ministry released the first advance estimates of kharif production for 2010-11.

Experts, however, point out that the kharif production this year at 114.63 million tonnes is lower than 118.14 million tonnes in 2008-09. This is attributed to drought in parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar which affected paddy cultivation.

Participating in Rabi Campaign Conference earlier this week, Agriculture Commissioner Gurbachan Singh had said that due to less paddy coverage in drought affected States, kharif rice production would be “slightly less” compared to 2008-09. The output is lesser by 5.3 per cent.

Rice crop is good in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Assam, Punjab and Haryana. However, paddy cultivation has been hit by floods in Uttar Pradesh (3.17 lakh hectares), Uttarakhand (25280 hectares), Gopalganj in Bihar (4755 hectares), Haryana (29,295 hectares).

As per the first advance estimate released here, the total kharif production is 114.63 million tonnes compared to 103.84 million tonnes in 2009-10 crop year. Rice output at 80.41 million tonnes is expected to be higher than 75.91 million tonnes last year. However, this would still be lower than the record 84.91 million tonnes in the 2008-09 kharif season.

The pulses production is estimated to be higher by 40 per cent this year at 6 million tonnes against and 4.30 million tonnes last year. Coarse cereals at an estimated 28.23 million tonnes are likely to be higher by 19.5 per cent against 23.63 million tonnes last year.

The production of oilseeds is estimated to be higher by 10.3 per cent at 17.27 million tonnes this year against 15.66 million tonnes last year. Sugarcane output is expected to be 17 per cent higher this year at 324 million tonnes compared to 277 million tonnes in 2009-10.

Cotton production is expected to be higher by 39.9 per cent at 335 lakh bales of 170 kg each against 239.35 lakh bales last year.

Kharif sowing commences in June and harvesting begins from early October.