Kharif crop output is estimated to be lower by 3.9 per cent in FY23 owing to an uneven rain distribution in various parts of the country, Gaura Sengupta, Economist, IDFC Bank, said. The disruptions in rainfall patterns have also resulted in food prices rising higher than the seasonal pattern. The jump in food inflation has led to the headline CPI inflation for September 2022 currently tracking at nearly 7.4 per cent. The spatial distribution of rainfall remains erratic with 40 per cent of the country receiving excess showers, while 17 per cent of the country remains in deficit. The remaining 43 per cent witnessed a normal rainfall pattern.
Bihar was the driest this monsoon with a rainfall deficiency of 31 percent, the IDFC report noted. Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu was the most drenched after receiving 47 percent above normal downpour as of September 29, 2022.
The decline in Kharif crops is led by rice, with a 6.1 per cent on-year slump in produce. The stunted production comes after the Rabi output in FY22 was impacted by heatwave, in which wheat output in particular declined by 2.5 per cent. The rising food inflation is also evident in the prices of vegetables, which rose, as opposed to the normal declining trend in September.
The uneven pattern of rainfall has also affected the harvesting regimes of farmers, primarily in Punjab. Prolonged rainfalls in several areas of the state are pushing farmers to burn paddy stubble, instead of processing it through machinery, to make up for the lost time and prepare their fields for the next crop, experts have said. This increases the chances of farm fires in the area.
“The rains (last week) delayed paddy harvesting in several areas, especially in Amritsar and Tarn Taran region of Punjab, where farmers grow potato and peas before wheat. It is not an ideal situation. The delay in paddy harvesting has further shortened the window to prepare fields for the next crop. So, there is a high probability these farmers may burn the paddy straw instead of managing it through machinery,” Dr Mahesh Narang, HOD, Farm Engineering, Punjab Agricultural University told PTI.