The agricultural output in the economy grew by 3.5% in the third quarter (Q3) of FY20, against 3.1% in Q2 of FY20.
The government has set a target to raise food grain production by an annual 2% for the 2020-21 crop year, starting July. It is confident of achieving the target after the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted a ‘normal’ monsoon.
Though the government is betting on a bumper harvest to increase the overall agriculture growth and boost the rural economy, robust production in recent years did not really translate into gains for farmers as prices remained subdued.
Releasing the target at the annual kharif conference, agriculture commissioner SK Malhotra said the target of total food grains production for 2020-21 is set at a record 298.3 million tonne (MT), comprising 149.92 MT in kharif season and 148.4 MT during rabi. In 2019-20, production was 291.95 MT, against the target of 291.1 MT. The target for last year was modestly increased by less than a million tonne year-on-year.
The IMD has predicted this year’s monsoon rainfall to be 100% of the long period average (LPA) of 88 cm. 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.
According to the weather bureau, rainfall between 96% and 104% of the 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 2020 in either the last week of May or the first week of June.
The NDA government after assuming power in 2014 had declared a shift in the country’s agriculture policy from production centric to income centric and announced a number of steps, including doubling of farmers’ income by 2022. However, the continuing thrust on higher cereals output over the last six years has proved the government’s reluctance to take any chance, even though it has been running schemes for Punjab and Haryana farmers to shift from water-guzzling paddy crop.
The agricultural output in the economy grew by 3.5% in the third quarter (Q3) of FY20, against 3.1% in Q2 of FY20. While crop production is one of the important factors, the growth in horticulture and allied activities also has a crucial role in the overall progress of the farm sector.
According to the All India Financial Inclusion Survey, released by Nabard in 2018, only 48% of rural families were 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. 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 2020-21, the target for rice production has been fixed at 117.5 MT, wheat at 106.5 MT, pulses 25.6 at MT and coarse cereals at 48.7 MT. Malhotra said except soyabean, seeds of all other crops are available in surplus and fertiliser availability is also more than required.
Availability of soybean seed is lower by 3.2 lakh quintal from its demand estimate of 27.2 lakh quintal. The Centre targets to introduce soyabean crop in Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Manipur and other north-eastern states. Currently, the oilseed crop is grown mainly in 45 districts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka.