With expectations of a record wheat production this year (2009-10), the Union government is upbeat about providing food grains to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families on a sustained basis under the proposed National Food Security Bill.

“Despite the drought caused by (-) 23 per cent rainfall during the kharif season this year, farmers have maintained a production of 170.29 million tonnes of rice and wheat… which calls for satisfaction. With this, showing, we should be able to provide the proposed mandatory food grains to BPL families on a sustained basis,” Union Agriculture Secretary P.K. Basu told TheHindu here.

According to the third advance estimates of grain production released by the Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday, wheat output is expected to be higher by 3.35 million tonnes, at 80.98 million tonnes, this year, though the total grain production is estimated to decline by 11.66 million tonnes over last year. The decline is mainly on account of the drought that hit paddy, coarse cereal, sugarcane, edible oil and pulse crops during the kharif season.

Though the government revised upwards its third advance estimate from the second advance estimate released in February, it still fell short of the third advance production levels of last year. Against a total grain output of 229.85 million tonnes in the third advance estimate in 2008-09, the comparable grain production estimate this year is 218.19 million tonnes. The gap with the final estimate, at 234.47 million tonnes, might even be larger. The fourth and final estimates are to be released in June-July.

In the third advance estimate for 2009-10, rice output is estimated at 89.31 million tonnes, against 99.37 million tonnes last year. Wheat output is put at a record 80.98 million tonnes, against 77.63 million tonnes in 2008-09. The production of coarse cereals this year is expected to be 33.13 million tonnes, against 38.67 million tonnes last year, with a major decline in jowar, bajra and maize.

The pulses production, however, has shown a marginal increase of 0.59 million tonnes in the third advance estimate owing to the better yield during the rabi season. The total output of pulses is expected to be 14.77 million tonnes this year. All through last year, however, the demand-side shortages led to high prices and heavy imports.

The production of oilseeds is expected to be 161.16 lakh tonnes, against 181.70 lakh tonnes, with the shortfall in groundnut, rape seed and mustard and sunflower oilseeds during the kharif season. Sugarcane output also declined in 2009-10 to 2746.58 million tonnes from 2892.34 lakh tonnes last year.

Jute and mesta output, however, was higher at 111.04 lakh bales of 180 kg each, against 103.28 lakh bales.