Record foodgrain output seen this year

Krishnanand Tripathi
File photo of Farmers harvesting wheat crop at a field. Photo - PTI

File photo of Farmers harvesting wheat crop at a field.
Photo – PTI

India’s foodgrain production is expected to hit an all time high of 272 million tonnes in 2016-17 crop year ending in June this year. The government estimates suggest that this trend will continue in the next crop year as well and food grain production may be higher at 274 million tonnes in 2017-18.  Bumper foodgrain production for two years in a row is expected to cool down inflationary pressure on food prices.

India had suffered two back to back deficient monsoon years in 2014-15 and 2015-16 crop years and the total foodgrain production in the country was little over 250 million tonnes during that period.

As per second government estimate, foodgrain production is expected to touch a record 271.98 MT in the current year ending in June.

“Foodgrain production target for next year is set at record 273 million tonnes,” Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said while addressing a two-day national conference that is discussing sowing strategy for the coming kharif season.

Southwest monsoon is forecast to be normal which will help achieve the desired target, he said without disclosing the season-specific production targets.

It may be noted that 50 per cent of the foodgrain output comes from both kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) seasons.

Kharif crops are normally sown in around 72 million hectares. Rice, pulses (tur, urad and moong), oilseeds (groundnut and soybean), cotton and sugarcane are main crops grown in this season.

Junior Agricutlure Ministers Parshottam Rupala and Sudarshan Bhagat emphasised on providing timely support to farmers during pre and post harvesting periods.

Expressing confidence of meeting the target, Agriculture Secretary Shobhana Pattanayak said: “We expect another year of good monsoon. We expect the 4 per cent agri-growth rate will be maintained in 2017-18.”

Since kharif crops are heavily dependent on the performance of the southwest monsoon, the states should plan for all possible scenarios like delayed onset of rains, prolonged dry spells and less/excess rains, he said.

The Secretary further asked the states to encourage more farmers to buy the crop insurance policy Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and aim to insure 40 per cent of the sown area (194 million hectares) in 2017-18 crop year.

Urging states to sustain pulses production next year, he said that it is a “big challenge” but efforts should be made to boost crop yields with supply of quality seeds and achieve the target of 23 million tonnes in 2017-18.

He also emphasised on diversification, market reforms and setting up of state and district committees for monitoring of agri-schemes.

According to the agriculture ministry, there is sufficient supply of seeds for the forthcoming kharif season.

For instance, about 83.46 lakh quintals of paddy seeds and 3.75 lakh quintals of tur dal seeds are available.

Fertiliser requirement is estimated to be 28.99 million tonnes for the season, it added.

The two-day national conference is deliberating on how to increase foodgrain production in the next year and implement technology and new innovations in the farm sector.

(With input from agencies).