Pinning hopes on conducive weather conditions prevailing currently and an increase in sowing areas of rabi crops — wheat, pulses, oilseeds and coarse cereals — compared to last five years, the government is aiming at a bumper foodgrains output for the ongoing crop year (2016-17) after two consecutive drought years.
While the rabi sowing activities have been completed in most parts of the country, the government is aiming at a bumper grain output in excess of 270 million tonnes (MT) in the current crop year (July-June) in anticipation of major jump in pulses and wheat production.
“We are confident of achieving a record foodgrains production which would boost agricultural growth after two back to back drought years,” Shobhana K Pattanayak, secretary, department of agriculture and cooperation told FE.
Pattanayak said that because of bumper kharif crops, pulses output is expected to surpass 20 MT from 16.4 MT reported in 2015-16.
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As per the latest data, rabi crops have been sown in more than 61.62 million hectare (MH) which is close to 3% more than last five year’s average.
Sowing of wheat, the crop that accounts for about half of the rabi area, has been completed in 3% more area than average of last five years while the sowing is up by more than 7% from last year.
“During this week, the wheat sowing would be over across the country as there was some delay in sowing in Uttar Pradesh because of late harvest of sugarcane crops,” Gyanendra P Singh, Director, Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR), a Karnal-based body under the agriculture ministry, said.
Singh said that till last week, more than 30.96 MH has been covered under wheat crop and overalls the sowing could surpass 31.5 MH this rabi season.
“Recent rains and cold wave condition prevailing at present would help the crop and we are likely to get a bumper wheat crop this year,” Singh of IIWBR said. The government has set target of a record wheat production of 96.5 MT for 2016-17.
Pulses — gram, lentil, urad etc — area was up 9% last week compared to last five year’s average, while that of oilseeds including groundnut, mustard and sunflower have marginally declined below the last year’s average.
According to sources, sowing has so far been completed in close to 97% of areas usually sown.
As per the data released last week, the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector is expected to grow by 4.1% in 2016-17 from 1.2% reported in the previous fiscal.
In November last year, the government had announced 6-16% increase in the minimum support price (MSP) for rabi crops — wheat, barley, gram masur, mustard and safflower — for the 2016-17 season.
MSP is the price at which the government would buy wheat, pulses and oilseeds from farmers.
The ministry has set the country’s grain production target at a record 270.10 million tonnes (MT) for the 2016-17 crop year (July-June), up 6.7% from the output of 253.23 MT in 2015-16.
The sowing of rabi crops usually begins at the end of October and harvesting starts in April.