With severe deficiency of monsoon rainfall in the eastern regions hitting paddy sowing activities, the country’s rice production for 2022-23 crop year (July-June) may turn out to be at least 10 million tonne (MT) less than last year’s record level of 129 MT, according to trade sources.
Paddy sowing has been adversely impacted in parts of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.
West Bengal, the biggest rice producer amongst states, has received deficient rainfall in 15 of its 23 districts, raising the likelihood of crop loss, an official said.
In East Bardhaman district, considered as rice bowl of West Bengal, the rainfall deficiency has been 34% of benchmark so far while other key grain producing districts – Murshidabad (-63%), East Midnapore (-35%) and Bankura (-48%) — too have received deficient rainfall. The state’s overall deficiency in rainfall is 25% against the benchmark till Sunday.
There are concerns about rice stocks with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) depleting to a 10-year low level by April, 2023 year, if the free ration scheme is extended to the second half of the financial year. The government may have to impose some curbs on rice exports — though minimum export price or an export tax — if the scheme is extended. At present, however, the FCI has comfortable rice stocks of around 30.3 MT against buffer norm for July of 13.5 MT, excluding 14.4 MT of rice yet to be supplied by mills to FCI.
According to data released by the agriculture ministry on July 28, area under paddy sowing in West Bengal was 1.13 million hectare (MH) which was 48% less than the same period last year. Overall paddy sowing area across the country was reported at 23.15 MH which was 13% less than year ago level.
The ministry did not release kharif crops sowing data last Friday.
West Bengal produced 16.6 million tonne (MT) of rice, more than 13% of the country’s total grain production of 122.2 MT in the 2020-21 crop year.
Uttar Pradesh, the second biggest producer of rice, has received 42% less rainfall than benchmark. Only 13 districts out of 75 in the state have received normal monsoon rainfall so far. The rainfall deficiency in the other easter states Bihar (-34%) and Jharkhand (-48%).
“Deficiency in monsoon rainfall is going to hit around 15 to 20% of paddy area which is expected to pull down overall rice production,” an official told FE.
In terms of monsoon rains, the other key rice producing states such as Punjab (9%), Andhra Pradesh (29%) and Telangana (86%) have received above normal to excess rainfall against the benchmark – long period average (LPA) till Sunday. Odisha and Chhattigarh have also received normal rainfall till now.
Officials said that it’s too early to assess the impact of lower paddy sowing on overall rice production in the 2022-23 crop year. Around 80% of the country’s rice production is grown in the kharif season while the rest is grown in rabi season.
The cumulative rainfall received during June 1- August 7 was 538 mm, which was 6% more than the benchmark (above normal level) of 509 mm for the same period.
The south peninsula, central India and northwest India have received 37%, 9% and 1% more rainfall respectively than the normal range. The rainfall deficiency in northwest India and east and north east regions has been 15%.
However, according to the US department of agriculture, the rice outlook report for July has projected India’s rice production to a record 130.5 MT.
India has exported more than 20 MT of rice worth a record $9.6 billion to more than 150 countries in 2021-22. It has been the world’s largest rice exporter of the grain in the last decade and has a share of around 44% global trade.