Government expecting another bumper harvest; better than last year

India is going to get another bumper harvest with output to be similar to last year’s or better, as crop planting and the monsoon season are at the tail end. It also doesn’t expect floods to have any major impact on production.

But some analysts raised concerns over the distribution of rains that they said were erratic, and in deficit in several states. But trade doesn’t expect any impact on food prices as they claimed there would be ample supplies to meet domestic needs.

Indian Council of Agriculture Research has depicted that kharif production would at least be similar to last year’s levels and can even be better as current weather condition and planting data are favourable. Planting continues across north-eastern states, largely of rice.

According to agriculture ministry data, major crops have been planted on 104.16 million hectares so far this kharif season against an estimated 103.95 million hectares last year. The area under coarse cereal, cotton and pulses has fallen, while acreage of oilseeds, rice and sugarcane increased.
The data also emphasizes that it will be premature to say that crop loss will be there due to flood or deficit rains. Localised impact might have happened, but it will not make an impact on overall production. One should stay away from speculation at this point of time.

Analysts, traders and representatives of industrial bodies are not so optimistic on certain crops. National Collateral Management Services Limited (NCML), a post-harvest management company, in a recent report estimated total food grain production for kharif 2018-19 to be 136.75 million tonnes, which is 2.83 per cent lower than the 140.73 million tonnes of the previous year (as per the government’s fourth advance estimates).

According to it, production of rice is expected to fall marginally by 1.74 per cent to 95.8 million tonnes and that of coarse cereal by 4.1 per cent to 32.5 million tonnes. It predicts pulses production to be 9.5 per cent less from last year at 8.45 million tonnes and oilseed by 2 per cent at 20.55 million tonnes. Poor returns have led farmers to reduce pulses acreage, which according to ministry data fell 2.21 per cent to 13.44 million hectares.

Urad output will see a 5 per cent to 8 per cent loss. In tur and moong production, no fall is expected. This will not affect prices or availability as the government is holding over 5 million tonnes of pulses from 2016 and 2017 crop year.. Cotton, which saw a 2.39 per cent fall in acreage at 11.8 million hectares, will see a drop in output, said traders.

Similarly, coarse cereals production could see a drop due to lower planting of bajra, maize, jowar and ragi, said traders and company executives. Overall, coarse cereals acreage fell 4.03 per cent at 17.43 million hectares.

Rice, the most widely planted kharif crop, saw acreage rise to 2.29 per cent to 38.19 million hectares. This kharif season, production will be higher by over 3 per cent as the weather has been favourable. With dams nearly full in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala, we can expect a bumper rabi crop of rice.

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