Kharif foodgrain output estimates lowered

New Delhi: The government yesterday estimated the country''s production of kharif foodgrains during 2004-05 at 100.29 million tonnes (mt), against last year''s corresponding level of 112. 04 mt.

While then output of kharif rice has fallen from 73.92 mt to 71.1 mt, production of kharif coarse cereals and pulses are also expected to be lower at 24.5 mt (31.79 mt) and 4.69 mt (6.33 mt), respectively.

The union food and agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, was, however, optimistic that the 10.5 per cent decline in overall kharif foodgrain output would be substantially offset by higher production in the ensuing rabi season. Addressing press persons, he said that rabi foodgrain output would touch 125-135 mt, compared to last year''s 100.01 mt. As a result, total output during 2004-05 would end up "well above" the previous year''s 212.05 mt figure.

Pawar said that the government will announce the minimum support price (MSP) for rabi crops "within the next week," which would give farmers adequate time to make informed sowing decisions. Late monsoon rains, he said, had left behind sufficient moisture in the soil, which would considerably enhance rabi production prospects.