Early rains bring glad tidings, rice production may get a fillip

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 18 2013, 07:41am hrs
With the southwest monsoon virtually covering the entire country two weeks ahead of schedule, paddy farmers in the key growing areas of eastern and central India have started preparing nurseries, which happens before the crops transplantation.

Agricultural experts say that if the areas under paddy get sufficient rain next month, rice production is expected to exceed last year's output of 104 million tonne. Last year, some key rice-growing areas in the country did not receive sufficient rainfall.

With the monsoon rains covering the key growing areas ahead of schedule, farmers have started preparing nurseries prior to the commencement of transplantation next month, Trilochan Mohapatra, director, Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), a Cuttack-based premier institute under the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, told FE.

Mohapatra said that because of delayed monsoon rains in many paddy-growing regions, transplantation went on till September last year. The transplantation work should be completed by July and August this year, he said.

Meanwhile, according to data from the agriculture ministry, rice had been sown on 7.9 lakh hectare till last week and sowing is expected to pick up by early next month. Total area under rice cultivation in the country is estimated at around 39 million hectare.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) had last week said that rainfall over the country for July 2013 is likely to be 101% of its long period average (LPA), which is the average countrywide annual rainfall (89 cm) recorded between 1951 and 2000. For the month of August, the MET department had predicted rainfall of 96% of LPA.

Using a combination of dynamic and statistical models, the Meteorological Department in April had forecast that rainfall during the monsoon months (June-September) would be most likely be normal, in the range of 96-104% of

the LPA.

Rains would occur at many places over the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi,Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir during the next 48 hours and decrease thereafter. They will happen at many places over the states of Vidarbha, Maharashtra and east Madhya Pradesh during two days, the IMD said in its weather bulletin on Monday.

Because of surplus rice stocks held with the government, the agriculture ministry has proposed a hike of R60 in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy at R1,310 per quintal for 2013-14. At the start of the month, the government had rice stocks of more than 34 mt, sufficient to meet requirement for PDS till paddy is harvested later this year.

In India, rice is grown mostly during the Kharif season. The sowing of kharif crops begins with the onset of the southwest monsoon in June. Harvesting of the crop starts in October.

Rice production during 2011-12 was 103.41 million tonne (mt), out of which 90.75 mt were grown in the Kharif season. Due to the failure of the monsoon in 2009-10, paddy production had declined by around 14% to 89.09 mt. India is the second-biggest producer of rice in the world and it accounts for 20% of the total global output.