Due to improvement in irrigation facilities, particularly in northern and western India, the rabi or winter crop production continues to rise notwithstanding the progress of the south-western monsoon, which is crucial to the kharif crop.
While agricultural scientists acknowledge that the monsoon rain does help in improving soil moisture, which helps in winter or rabi plantation, due to assured irrigation facility, the production of winter crop such as wheat, sugarcane or summer pulses have not been adversely impacted due to a deficient monsoon.
Rabi crops such as wheat are grown in mostly irrigated regions such as Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. Agriculture ministry data points out that wheat production during 2009-10, when average rainfall declined by more than 20%, matched the previous years figure of 80 million tonnes.
The contribution of rabi or winter crop in total food grains production has been rising steadily during the past few years, Ramesh Chand, director, National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, told FE.
Wheat production, which is a key contributor to the countrys foodgrain output, has been steadily rising, particularly in non-traditional states such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Although the wheat output in Punjab and Haryana, the biggest producers of wheat in the country, has somewhat stagnated despite improvement in irrigation facilities, MP and Rajasthan have been catching up with Punjab and Haryana in terms of wheat production.
We want to become the single biggest contributor of wheat to the central pool in the next few years, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had recently told FE.
Of the total foodgrain production of 252 million tonnes for 2011-12, rabi crop such as wheat, coarse cereals, maize, oilseeds such as soybean, groundnut and mustard contributed more than half of the total output.
Even states have been prepared for dealing with deficient rainfall. During 2009-10, due to a deficit monsoon and drought in various parts of the country, particularly in northern or north-eastern region, the state governments initiated early sowing of rabi crops to use the soil moisture available from late monsoon rains.
Use of available moisture resulted in saving of water, which would have been otherwise required for sowing and thus reduced the stress on water requirement for rabi crops to that extent, a parliamentary committee on agriculture, which looked into deficient monsoon in 2009-10, stated.