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Below normal rains not to hit foodgrain output

Last updated on: July 5, 2011 14:33 IST

Below normal rains not to hit foodgrain output

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BS Reporter in New Delhi

The forecast of marginally below normal rains would not have any impact on India's foodgrain production and the government aims to achieve an all-time high output of 245 million tonnes (mt) in 2011-12 crop year.

"Our overall foodgrain production target is 245 mt for the 2011-12 crop year, which is 9 mt higher than the last year," Agriculture Secretary P K Basu told reporters in New Delhi.

His comments assume significance as this is the first time that a senior government official has spoken on the possible impact of below normal rains on agriculture production.

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Image: A typical scene during a monsoon in Mumbai.
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
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Foodgrain production is estimated to be at a record 235.88 mt in the 2010-11 crop year (July-June). 

Last month, the India Meteorological Department had said in its second forecast that south-west monsoon would be below normal at 95 per cent of the Long Period Average, with margin for error of plus or minus 4 per cent.     

"It is a normal feature that out of 600 districts, 70-100 districts either get affected by drought or excess rains.

"We should not be particularly worried about this trend. Of course, subject to normal rains, foodgrain production is expected to rise," Basu said.

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Image: A farmer and his bullocks cross a highway against the backdrop of monsoon clouds in Singur.
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters
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Below normal rains not to hit foodgrain output

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The agriculture ministry has pegged rice production at 102 mt, wheat at 85 mt, coarse cereals at 41 mt, and pulses at 17 mt.

Last year, the country is estimated to have produced 94.11 mt of rice, 84.27 mt of wheat, 40.21 mt of coarse cereals and 17.29 mt of pulses.

The agriculture ministry has kept high foodgrain production target for the 2011-12 crops on the back of good rains so far and full water level in reservoirs, Basu said.

Good rains in June will aid sowing, which has already begun in the most parts of the country, he added.

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According to the official data, rains were plus 11 per cent in June, as against minus 16 per cent in the same period last year.     

Asked if it is viable to meet foodgrain demand under the proposed National Food Security Act, Basu said, We are confident of meeting the foodgrain requirement of 60-70 million tonnes under the proposed Food Bill.

The policies adopted in the agriculture sector so far are on the right track and there would not be any supply problem in good times.

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Image: A farmer works in a paddy field.
Photographs: Reuters
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However, an alternative strategy need to be worked out in the years of drought, he said.

"The rice target of 102 MT is achievable as the eastern belt, which produces more than 60 per cent of the country's rice, has received good rains. As regards to wheat, it is too early to say," Basu said.

He said sporadic rain in Gujarat may affect cotton production to some extent.


Image: Farmers walk through a field at Moynaguri village, about 66 km north of Siliguri.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
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