A bumper harvest usually helps the country to increase the overall agriculture growth and boost rural economy, but in recent years, robust production hasn't really translated into gains for farmers as prices remained subdued.
The government has assumed a modest increase in foodgrains production for the next crop year of 2019-20, starting July, as the last year’s ambitious target could not be achieved as certain crop-producing areas witnessed deficient rainfall even though India Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted ‘normal’ monsoon. A bumper harvest usually helps the country to increase the overall agriculture growth and boost rural economy, but in recent years, robust production hasn’t really translated into gains for farmers as prices remained subdued.
The target of foodgrains production for 2019-20 crop year is set at a record 291.1 MT, comprising 147.9 MT in kharif season and 143.2 MT during rabi, said agriculture commissioner SK Malhotra at the annual conference of state governments. In 2018-19, the production was 281.37 MT against the target of 290.25 MT. The target for last year was sharply higher than the previous year’s 274.55 MT.
The IMD has predicted this year’s monsoon rainfall to be 96% of the long period average (LPA) of 89cm. The monsoon season of June-September has over 70% share in India’s annual rainfall and is considered key to the success of agriculture sector, as almost 55% of the agricultural land is rain-fed.
The country had got 91% rainfall of the LPA in 2018, while the IMD predicted 97%. According to the weather bureau, rainfall between 96-104% of LPA is considered ‘normal’ and 90-96% of the LPA is categorised as ‘below normal’. The agency will release the region- and month-wise forecast for 2019 in June.
“Target should be aligned with what is the likely demand and whether we are competitive to export the surplus. The actual production, however, will depend on two factors — crop prices and rainfall,” noted agriculture economist Ashok Gulati said. “When the official stocks of rice and wheat are more than double the buffer norms, the focus on foodgrains should be less.”
The central pool stock of wheat and rice was at 56.82 MT , which includes 15.56 MT in the form of paddy, as of April 1 against the buffer norm of 21.04 MT. The agricultural output in the economy grew by 2.7% in the third quarter (Q3) of FY19 against 4.6% in Q2 of FY19. While crop production is one of the important factors, the growth in horticulture and allied activities also has crucial role in the overall progress of the farm sector. According to the All India Financial Inclusion Survey, released by Nabard last year, only 48% of rural families are agricultural households.
A farm household has been defined on the basis of a family earning over Rs 5,000 (value of produce) from agricultural operations. It also says only 12.7% of farmer households have income from one source while the remaining families earn from multiple sources. The agricultural households earned 35% of their income from cultivation while earnings from wage contributed 34%. Other sources of income include government/private service (16%), livestock (8%) and other activities (7%). For 2019-20, the target for rice production has been fixed at 116 MT, wheat at 100.5 MT, pulses 26.3 at MT and coarse cereals at 48.3 MT.