Despite a drought in parts of the eastern region, the government today said production of rice in the kharif season of the 2010-11 crop year will be higher than last year owing to increased area under paddy.

“The production of rice will definitely be better than last year. However, whether it would reach to the level of 2008-09 is yet to be assessed,” Agriculture Secretary P K Basu told PTI when asked about the likely output in kharif 2010-11.

India had produced 84.91 million tonnes of rice in the kharif season of the 2008-09 crop year (July-June), but output fell to 75.91 million tonnes in last year’s kharif season on account of a severe drought that hit almost half the country.

The area under paddy has gone up to 31.8 million hectares during the ongoing kharif season on the back of a good monsoon, according to government data.

Rice production dipped last year because of a widespread drought that hit almost half the country, Basu said, adding that deficient rains in the eastern states during the current season would have hardly any impact on overall production, as area under paddy has increased in other parts of the country.

The secretary said overall acreage in the current kharif season had gone up to 96.6 million hectares as on September 8, which is almost equal to the 2008-09 level, but is higher by eight million hectares than last year.

On the estimated production of pulses during the current kharif season, Basu said it would go up by up to one million tonnes on account of an increase in acreage under the crop by more than two million hectares.

“Because of sheer increase in acreage, pulses production is certainly going to go up by 0.5-1 million tonnes higher than last year. However, we are not factoring the increase in productivity,” he said.

Area under pulses cultivation increased to 10.9 million hectares during the current kharif season from 8.9 million hectares in the same period a year ago.

With the increase in pulses production, the prices of pulses, which have already started showing downward trend, are also likely to go down further, he said.

“The market has already started behaving and I believe that the price will come down further,” Basu said.