Rabi rice output target raised by 1.5 mt

Written by fe Bureaus | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 29 2009, 04:53am hrs
With kharif rice production expected to drop by around 10 million tonne (mt) because of widespread drought in several parts of the country, the agriculture ministry on Tuesday said it would aim to raise rice production during the rabi season by more than 1.5 million tonne for bridging the gap.

In India, around 13 million tonne to 15 million tonne of rice is cultivated during the rabi season, mostly in southern states, while the bulk of production comes from the kharif season.

We are aiming to increase rice production during the coming rabi season by an additional 1.5 million tonne than last year, agriculture secretary T Nanda Kumar said on the sidelines of the US-India Business Council meeting.

India had produced 14.57 million tonne of rice in the last rabi season.

The agriculture ministry last month had projected that the shortfall in kharif paddy acreage has widened to more than 6 million hectare this year and the countrys rice production could decline by more than 10 million tonne.

As per agriculture ministry data, farmers had planted paddy in around 27.2 million hectare this year, compared with the 34.1 million hectare covered during 2008-09.

While terming that the outlook for winter-sown crops, which include rice and rapeseed, as good, Nanda Kumar said the government is expecting additional two million tonne of wheat from the coming rabi season and it has set a target of 82 million tonne of wheat production.

The area planted with the crop may increase by 0.5 million hectare, he added.

Kumar also informed that the minimum support price for the wheat crop is expected to be announced during next two weeks.

Terming finance minister Pranab Mukherjees assessment of a 16 million tonne fall in kharif rice production this year as broad, Nanda Kumar said it (the shortfall) may also come down.

More than flood, drought has affected the crop, he said.

India is the worlds second largest rice producer accounting for more than 20% of all global production.

According to the governments fourth advance released, the rice production is projected at record 100 million tonne during 2008-9. The country produced 96.69 million tonne of rice in 2007-08 season.