India may produce 3.3 million tonnes of groundnut this Kharif, about a million tonnes less than a year earlier as drought has deeply affected sowing areas, according to eminent edible oil expert G B Patel.

“Groundnut output may dip by about 9-10 lakh tonnes this Kharif from 4.2 million tonnes in the same season last year on slump in areas under the crop,” Patel said, adding that productivity, too, is under stress.

It can, however, be mentioned that the industry’s figure of soyabean production at 4.22 million tonnes in the last Kharif is quite low than the government’s estimate of 5.63 million tonnes for the same season.

Already, drought in close to half the country has triggered a slump in groundnut coverage by over nine lakh hectares (LH) to 41.61 LH as on September 3, official data showed.

Nevertheless, Mr. Patel refrained from making any projection about total oilseed production in the 2009-10 season, saying “it is too early to comment“.

But he expressed confidence that late rains would benefit oilseed crops. “Rains in the next fortnight are crucial to oilseed crops like groundnut and soyabean. Some growing areas are witnessing late rainfall now, which is good,” he said.

The growing uncertainty over the fate of groundnut crop has put pressure on soyabean for any recovery in overall oilseed production. Compounding the worry, soyabean acreage is down, though slightly, at 94.96 LH, and the yield is under stress due to erratic monsoon in some growing areas.