Rabi foodgrain output may rise to 133 mt

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New Delhi | Published: September 23, 2015 12:04:18 AM

Govt sets ambitious target despite deficit monsoon this year

After a projected 2% fall in kharif grain output, the government is targetting a 5% rise in the rabi production this year despite a deficient monsoon.

Addressing the rabi conference, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh on Tuesday said the country could produce 133 million tonne (MT) in the coming rabi season, compared with 126.38 mt a year before, thanks to a good rainfall in the rain-deficit states over the last week or so. If the official projections are proved correct, the grain output in the entire crop year through June 2016 would be 257.05 mt, up 1.7% from a year before, considering that the government has forecast the kharif production to be 124.05 mt. However, the full-year grain output would still be lower than the record level of 265 mt in 2013-14.

The country’s grain output fell almost 4.7% in the last crop year from a year before, as a 12% monsoon deficit had shrunk summer planting while unseasonal rains hit winter crops.

Importantly, the country has witnessed a 14% deficit in monsoon rains season so far in 2015, although seasonal rainfall is predicted to be 88% of the benchmark long-period average, the same as last year.

The drop in production had  dragged down the farm sector growth sharply in 2014-15. The growth in gross value added in the farm and allied sectors in the last fiscal was a paltry 0.2%, compared with 3.7% in 2013-14.

Although wholesale price inflation tumbled to -4.95% in August, a new low, helped by negative food inflation, risks from a deficient monsoon still persist.  Retail inflation, too, fell to a fresh low of 3.66% in August, compared with 3.69% in July, following subdued food inflation.

The minister said in order to compensate farmers in the event of deficient rainfall, the govenrment has enhanced seed subsidy for oilseed crops. “The subsidy went up from Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,800 per quintal in case of normal varieties and from Rs 2,500 to Rs 2,700 per quintal for hybrid varieties of oil seeds,” he said.

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