Thanks to reasonably widespread monsoon rains so far this year after two consecutive years of deficient monsoon, the country’s foodgrain output is expected to touch a record level in the current crop year (2016-17), agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Thursday.
The country had last achieved a record output of 265.04 million tonne in the 2013-14 crop year (July-June). Subsequently, the foodgrain production in the next two years — 2014-15 and 2015-16 — declined to 252.02 million tonne and 253.23 million tonne, respectively, due to deficient monsoon.
The agriculture ministry, meanwhile, has set a target of achieving a record foodgrain production of 270 million tonne in the 2016-17 crop year, mainly because of widespread monsoon this season so far. The ministry has pegged paddy output at 108.50 million tonne, wheat at 96.50 million tonne and pulses at 24.50 million tonne for this year.
“Overall, monsoon has been favourable to farmers this year. We have received good rains and distribution was also good. I am sure we will have record production this year,” Singh said, addressing the national conference on rabi crops.
Pulses production is expected to be a record as the area during the kharif season has increased sharply by 29% to 143.95 lakh hectare, Singh said. The kharif sowing of paddy, oilseeds and coarse cereals have improved too. Usually, kharif sowing commences with the onset of southwest monsoon from June and harvesting will begin from next month.
Singh asked states to take up rabi or winter sowing of pulses by stating that, “since majority of pulses output comes from the rabi season, we need to continue encouraging farmers to grow pulses”. Unless farmers don’t get the minimum support price (MSP), they will not be encouraged to plant lentils in the rabi season. “It is for this reason that the government has started the pulses procurement operation,” he said.
As reported by FE earlier, the government agencies — Food Corporation of India (FCI), farmers’ cooperative Nafed and Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium — have started procurement of kharif moong in Karnataka and Maharashtra at the MSP. Other pulses like tur and urad will also be procured once their arrival begins on a large scale next month.
Agriculture secretary Shobhana K Pattanayak said the increase in pulses output in the next rabi season would depend on efficient procurement.
“Right now, pulses crop is in a very good shape. We are likely to break the record of pulses production during the current year. The next rabi pulses production will get a boost depending on how efficient is our procurement mechanism in the current season,” Pattanayak said.
On the strategy for the forthcoming rabi season, agriculture commissioner S K Malhotra said the state governments should adopt region-specific crop planning based on moisture availability. States should focus on rice fallow areas of 8 million hectare to promote pulses and oilseeds, he said, adding that they should also promote relay cropping and intercropping to enhance production and productivity.