Floods hit kharif grain, output to be lower

Written by Commodities Bureau | New Delhi, Sep 25 | Updated: Sep 26 2008, 05:50am hrs
The government, on Thursday, forecasted that foodgrain output in the kharif season is expected to be lower by more than 5 million tonne (MT), than earlier estimated due to a loss of more than 3.5 lakh hectare of agricultural land in the recent floods in Bihar, Orissa and Assam.

According to the first-advance estimates for 2008-9, kharif foodgrain output is expected to be 115.33 MT as against 120.96 MTrecorded as per the fourth and final advance estimates for the last crop-year released in July. However, rice output during the forthcoming kharif season is likely to marginally exceed last years projection, while the output of maize, pulses, oilseeds, coarse cereals, cotton and sugarcane may see a downward trend.

According to the estimate, the kharif rice outout is expected to be 83.25 MT against 82.81 MT recorded in the final estimate last year. Terming the estimates as conservative, T Nand Kumar, secretary, department of agriculture and cooperation, said, The estimates were based on preliminary information and it will go up significantly provided there is no national calamity.

The output of pulses, too, is projected to move downward to 4.72 MT from 6.45 MT, whereas that of oilseeds is estimated at 17.95 MT, as against 19.84 MT in the last kharif. Maize production is also estimated at 13.04 MT, compared to 15.15 MT in the last kharif, while the output of coarse cereals is projected to decline to 27.36 MT, from 31.70 MT .

Cotton output is estimated to decline, with production falling to 23.91 million bales from 25.81 million bales in the last kharif season. Similarly, sugarcane production is also expected to go down to 294.66 MT, from 340.56 MT in the same season last year.

Nand Kumar said that a team of experts from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the ministry of agriculture would visit Bihar on Friday to assess the damage caused to land estimated at 2.5 lakh hectare in the recent floods. The governments of Orissa and Assam have already informed the agriculture ministry about the damage caused to 1 lakh hectare in each state. He said that the rabi crop would be better due to the moisture content in the soil and temperature.

Due to a comfortable food grains stock, Kumar said that the country did not have a problem of food security in the short-term. He said that in order to tackle food security on a long-term basis, issues relating to food, animal feed and fuel have to be addressed in a balanced manner. We have taken a conscious decision of using only agricultural waste and agricultural by-products for bio-fuel, he said.