Kharif foodgrain output estimated at record 141.6 million tonnes

Foodgrain production in India is estimated at a record 141.6 million tonnes in the 2018-19 Kharif season. This has increased probability that wholesale crop prices will continue to hover low ahead of assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh states.

The agriculture ministry on 26 September has released the first advance estimate of crop production which showed that foodgrains output is 11.9 million tonnes higher than the average production of 129.7 million tonnes during 2012-17. On the other hand, foodgrain production in the year 2018-19 consisting of rice, pulses and coarse grains is only 0.6 percent more than the earlier 140.7 million tonnes in 2017-18.

It is pertinent to mention that the ‘2018-19 Kharif season’ will mark the third successive year of record food production since 2016-17. Wholesale food prices dropped by 4.04 percent in August from the previous year. Following the record production, the center’s costs towards supporting prices are expected to increase if the wholesale prices continue to remain lower than the minimum support prices (MSP) announced by the government. The center in July had raised the MSPs drastically ensuring that the farmers get a price that is at least 50 percent more than their farming costs.

As per the latest estimates, production of sugarcane is estimated at 383.9 million tonnes in 2018-19, which is about 2 percent more than last year. In addition, production of rice is expected to increase 1.8 percent to 99.2 million tonnes in 2018-19.  The sowing area under paddy is 2.36 percent higher at 38.6 million hectares as against the year-ago period. Experts said a higher production means the government will have to buy more rice from farmers. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has procured a record 38.16 million tonne of rice as of September 24 in 2017-18.

FCI’s procurement cost of rice is estimated at 1, 16,113 crore for 2018-19, up by more than 12,000 crores from last year. The government announced a package; PM-AASHA (earlier this month) of price deficiency support schemes for agriculture crops with an extra Budget expense of 15,000 crores for procurement of oilseeds and pulses crops. The moong MSP for kharif 2018 was increased 25 percent from the previous year.

Amongst the non-food grains, Kharif oilseeds production is likely to rise 5.7 percent to 22.2 million tonnes in 2018-19, from the previous 21 million tonnes. Conversely, production of cotton is expected to drop by 7 percent from 35 million bales in the last kharif season to 32.5 million bales this year.

The sowing of kharif crops commences with the start of monsoon and harvesting begins from mid-September. The major kharif crops are maize, paddy and soyabean.

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