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Kharif Rice Production May Decrease by 10-12 million tonnes: Food Secretary

According to agriculture ministry data, the area under paddy crop was down 5.62 percent to 383.99 lakh hectares as of September 2 in the ongoing Kharif season.

Shivam Dwivedi
Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey
Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey

The government said on Friday that due to a decrease in paddy sowing area, India's rice production could fall by 10-12 million tonnes during the Kharif season this year, but that the country would still have a surplus output. On Thursday, the government banned the export of broken rice and imposed a 20% export duty on non-basmati rice, except for parboiled rice, in an effort to boost domestic supply and curb rising prices, which have risen by 8% in the wholesale market and 6% in the retail market.

Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey stated at a press conference to explain the rationale behind the ban on broken rice exports that paddy acreage is down by 38 lakh hectares so far this Kharif season due to less rain in many states. The Kharif season accounts for roughly 80% of total rice production in India. "In the worst-case scenario, we could lose 10 million tonnes of rice production this year," he told reporters here.

The total rice production in India for the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) is expected to be a record 130.29 million tonnes, up from 124.37 million tonnes the previous year. In 2021-22, the Kharif season produced 111.76 million tonnes of rice, while the Rabi (winter-sown) season produced 18.53 million tonnes. In the fiscal year 2021-22, the country exported 21.2 million tonnes of rice, 3.94 million tonnes of which were basmati rice.

However, the secretary stated that this is an initial estimate based on a drop in paddy acreage in Kharif (summer-sown) and average yield and that the actual fall in production may be less because yield may improve in states where rains have been plentiful. According to Pandey's presentation, paddy sowing is down by 25 lakh hectares in four states due to insufficient rains. In these four states, production could be reduced by 7-8 million tonnes. Paddy sowing has decreased in other states due to crop diversification. According to agriculture ministry data, the area under paddy crop was down 5.62 percent to 383.99 lakh hectares as of September 2 in the ongoing Kharif season.

According to the data, 406.89 lakh hectares of paddy were planted the previous year. So far this Kharif season, there has been a significant delay in paddy sowing in the states of Jharkhand (9.80 lakh ha), Madhya Pradesh (6.32 lakh ha), West Bengal (4.45 lakh ha), Chhattisgarh (3.91 lakh ha), Uttar Pradesh (2.61 lakh ha), and Bihar (2.18 lakh ha). Paddy is the main Kharif crop, with sowing beginning with the arrival of the southwest monsoon in June and harvesting beginning in October.

Pandey did not respond to a question about whether the government would extend Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana's free foodgrains programme beyond September. The PMGKAY scheme is only valid until September, and the government has yet to decide whether to extend the welfare programme in light of tight wheat stocks and a likely drop in rice output.

Under the National Food Security Law, the government currently provides wheat and rice for Rs 2 per kg and Rs 3 per kg, respectively (NFSA). Under the NFSA, the Centre provides 5 kg of food grains (wheat and rice) per person per month to approximately 80 crore people. Over and above the standard 5kg quota, the Centre provides an additional 5 kg of food grain free of charge to approximately 80 crore people through the PMGKAY. As of July 1, the Centre had a stock of 47 million tonnes of rice, including rice equivalent to unmilled paddy. As of July 1, the buffer stock requirement is 13.5 million tonnes of rice.

Already, the Centre is supplying more rice rather than wheat through ration shops, as wheat procurement fell sharply to 19 million tonnes in the 2022-23 marketing year, compared to 43 million tonnes the previous year.The wheat marketing year runs from April to March, but almost all of the grain is purchased by the end of June. The government banned wheat exports in May, citing a marginal drop in wheat output and a sharp drop in procurement by the state-run Food Corporation of India.

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