The government has set a target to increase the country’s foodgrain production by over 2% to a record 283.7 million tonne in 2018-19 crop year (July-June), helped by a normal monsoon.
Speaking at the annual kharif conference, agriculture commissioner S K Malhotra said while the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted monsoon rainfall to be normal, a Japanese research body has even forecast it to be more than normal. “This will definitely boost production,” he said.
Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said since the government has moved from production-centric to income oriented approach, the government would soon take a decision on schemes that would ensure farmers get the minimum support prices (MSPs) for their crops. The government would fix the MSPs at 50% over cost of production for all the kharif crops, where it is still to be done, he added.
The IMD has predicted this year’s southwest monsoon (June-September) to be ‘normal’, at 97% of the long-period average (LPA) of 89 cm, with a margin of error of +/- 5%. It has lined up five probable scenarios — a normal monsoon (42%), below normal (30%), deficient (14%), above normal (12%) and excess (2%). If this official forecast holds true, the country will have near-normal to normal monsoon for the third year in a row, after two successive years of drought.
In 2017, the country had received 95% monsoon rainfall and still the foodgrains production was a record and that is probably the reason for the government to fix a higher target for next crop year.
The government aims to achieve 141.2 million tonne foodgrains output during kharif and 142.5 million tonne in rabi during 2018-19. The rice production target for next year has been set at record 113 million tonne, including 98 million tonne from kharif season and 15 million tonne in rabi. India is estimated to have produced 111.01 million tonne rice in 2017-18, data show.
The target for pulses has been fixed at 24 million tonne, against estimated production of 23.95 million tonne in 2017-18. The same level of production target for pulses could be due to lower market prices for the crops like tur, moong, urad, masur and chana. In many places, the mandi prices of pulses are 20-25% lower than their MSPs.
The coarse cereals comprising maize, jowar, bajra, barley and other millets are targetted at 46.7 million tonne against their estimated output of 45.42 million tonne this year. Cotton production target has been fixed at 35.5 million bales (of 170 kg each) compared with 33.91 million bales in 2017-18.
Malhotra said there has been a thrust on raising oilseeds production in the country since most of the edible oil demand is met through import. The oilseeds production target has been fixed at 36 million tonne for 2018-19 while the estimated output was 29.9 million tonne this year. He appealed states to promote oilseeds through inter-cropping with pulses, cotton and coarse cereals. The states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha have been asked to promote soybean, the major kharif oilseed which is mainly grown in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.