Govt sees record foodgrain production despite deficit rain

The government expects record foodgrain production of 265-270 million tonnes in 2016-17 despite a slowdown in the intensity of south-west monsoon as a delay in monsoon's withdrawal revives hope of production hitting target.

Earlier forecasts of an above-normal monsoon had raised expectations of achieving a target of 270.1 million tonnes of foodgrain production in 2016-17 against the previous record output of 265.04 million tonnes achieved in 2013-14.
 
''A record production this year would mean an output of 265 MT to 270 MT,'' reports quoting agriculture ministry officials said.

''Overall, the monsoon has been favourable to farmers this year. We have received good rains, and the distribution was also good. I am sure we will have record production this year,'' agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said, addressing a conference on rabi crops on Thursday. He, however, did not quantify the likely production.

Foodgrain production fell in the past two years to 252.02 million tonnes in 2014-15, and 253.23 million tonnes in 2015-16 owing to drought.

This year, the centre had set an ambitious target, encouraged by the Indian Meteorological Department's (IMD) forecast of an above-normal monsoon, with rainfall at 106 per cent rainfall of the Long Period Average (LPA).

Although rainfall was 5 per cent lower than average during the period from 1 June to 15 September, the IMD expects its initial prediction to hold, given the delay in the monsoon's withdrawal, which usually begins early September.

Kharif sowing since the monsoon arrived in June has been satisfactory due to the good spread of rainfall countrywide.

The minister noted that pulses production was expected to be a record in the kharif season as sowing had risen 29 per cent to 143.95 lakh hectares.

''Since much of pulses output comes from the rabi season, we need to continue encouraging farmers to grow pulses,'' Singh said. Farmers should get the minimum support price (MSP) for pulses so as to incentivise planting in the rabi season as well, he added.

Government agencies have begun procuring kharif moong in Karnataka and Maharasthra at the MSP. Other pulses like tur and urad will be procured once their arrival begins on large scale, Singh said.