The summer kharif season is likely to produce a record paddy harvest this year, pushing the country’s foodgrain production for the season to an all time high of 15 crore tonnes, according to first advance estimates from the Agriculture Ministry.
However, oilseed production is marginally lower than last year, with both groundnut and soyabean harvests slightly, which could be bad news for soaring edible oil prices. On the other hand, the increase in pulses production, especially the toor dal crop, could come as a relief.
Releasing the estimate, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar attributed the record foodgrain production to the “hard work of farmers, proficiency of scientists and farmer friendly policies of the government”.
Going into the winter rabi season, the Centre has taken steps to incentivise the production of both oilseeds and pulses, according to a virtual presentation by Agriculture Commissioner S.K. Malhotra. Apart from a focus on seed production and distribution, the government is also targeting areas in eastern India which are planted with rice in the kharif season but remain fallow in the rabi season, with plans to sow 6.25 lakh hectares of pulses and 2.32 lakh hectares of oilseeds on such land. The Minimum Support Prices for oilseeds and pulses are also higher than for wheat, the main cereal grown in the winter.
With regard to kharif crops, rice production is estimated to be 10.7 crore tonnes this year, slightly higher than the 10.4 crore tonnes produced last year. The acreage sown with paddy also increased by almost 1 lakh hectares.
Both major oilseed crops in the kharif season saw slight dips in production. Groundnut acreage dropped almost 4%, resulting in an estimated production of 82.5 lakh tonnes. Soyabean production, which was affected by patchy rainfall in parts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, is likely to amount to 1.27 crore tonnes, slightly lower than last year, and well short of the 1.47 crore tonnes targeted. Last week, the Food Secretary had said soybean harvests were expected to play a significant role in taming edible oil prices which have soared over the past year.
The main kharif pulse crop, toor dal, is likely to surpass both last year’s production and this year’s targets, with a harvest of 44.3 lakh tonnes, the Ministry data said.
The production of coarse cereals is pegged to drop to 3.4 crore tonnes in comparison to 3.6 crore last year.
Cash crops are likely to see record production, with an estimate of 41.9 crore tonnes in the case of sugarcane and 3.6 crore bales of cotton.