After three straight years of bumper production, the country’s winter grain harvest is set to drop this crop year through June, as area under various crops has declined from a year earlier, showed the farm ministry data released on Friday.
While the coverage of wheat, the most important winter-sown crop, has fallen 2.8% until Friday from a year earlier, that of pulses was down 10% and coarse cereals 3.8%. Even oilseed planting has declined by almost 8.7% until Friday. Winter crops are usually sown from mid-September and harvested from mid-March.
In the last rabi season, the country had produced around 135 million tonnes of grains, including almost 96 million tonnes of wheat. However, with wheat planting having fallen 2.8%, or roughly a million hectares, so far, production of the key grain is expected to drop by at least a million tonnes unless productivity goes up substantially.
Since the summer-sown (kharif) grain output is already estimated to have fallen by 7%, a smaller rabi harvest reinforced fears that the farm sector growth will be much lower than a year before. The growth in gross value added in the farm and allied sectors last fiscal was as high as 3.8%–quite impressive by their standards–and compared with 1.7% a year before, according to the latest government estimates. Thanks to the drop in kharif farm production, mainly grains, the growth in gross value added in agriculture and allied sectors contracted 0.4% in the September-December quarter and rose an average of 1.7% in the first three quarters of the current fiscal.