Drought spoils farm sector's dream run

Dec 27 2012, 10:24 IST
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The agriculture sector witnessed record foodgrains output of 257.44 million tonnes this year. (Reuters) The agriculture sector witnessed record foodgrains output of 257.44 million tonnes this year. (Reuters)
SummaryThe agriculture sector witnessed record foodgrains output of 257.44 million tonnes this year.

The agriculture sector witnessed record foodgrains output of 257.44 million tonnes in this year enabling the country to become world's largest rice exporter for the first time, but the monsoon played spoilsport dashing farmers' hopes of an encore in 2013.

A hefty increase of Rs 1 lakh crore in farm credit target to Rs 5.75 lakh crore was a major highlight for the sector in 2012, while the continuing farmers suicide and the reports of a Parliamentary panel and a Supreme Court appointed committee recommending ban on field trial in GM crops were setbacks.

After a good monsoon last year, higher support price to farmers and the central scheme to bring green revolution in eastern India paid off in achieving a record foodgrains production in the 2011-12 crop year ended June this year.

An all-time high production were recorded in rice, wheat, cotton and sugarcane, enabling the country to export these food items in a big way. India exported nearly 10 million tonnes of rice this year, beating Thailand to become largest exporter in world. Not only that, the Centre allowed 4.5 million tonnes of wheat export and sold huge quantity of wheat to bulk consumers from its godowns to ease storage crunch.

The euphoria, however, did not last long as monsoon, the life-line of Indian agriculture, played hide and seek game throughout the season, resulting in drought in four states – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

The government tried to tide over the crisis by announcing subsidies on diesel, seeds, fodder and lower interest rate on crop loan for drought-hit areas.

However, the Kharif crops such as paddy, pulses and coarse cereals got affected. Foodgrains production is estimated to drop by 10 per cent in Kharif season.

"We started the year on a good note with record output that instilled sense of optimism in the sector. However, weak monsoon during kharif sowing affected crops. In spite of poor rains, we reasonably managed well. We are fine now and geared up to make up losses during the rabi season," Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna said.

Notwithstanding crop losses in Kharif (summer crops), the government expects the foodgrains production in the 2012-13 crop year (July-June) to reach 250 million tonnes, which would still be the second best performance of the sector.

Keeping this in mind, the government has decided to continue export of rice and wheat even next year. The year saw

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