The Government today said drought-like situation in some parts of the country could affect agricultural production and may have its impact on prices of essential commodities.
“The prevailing drought conditions could affect the crop prospects and may have its impact on the prices of essential commodities, such as shortfall in domestic supplies relative to demand,” Food Minister K V Thomas said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
As per the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), monsoon rain has been 17 per cent lower between June 1 and August 5, he said. Four states - Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra - are facing drought-like situation.
Noting that prices of certain essential items have risen in last three months, K V Thomas said the Government, however, has taken steps to tackle food inflation in view of this situation in some parts of the country.
According to the data placed before Parliament, retail prices of some pulses, sugar, edible oil and tomato have risen in the last three months. Prices of rice, wheat and atta remained stable.
In Delhi, the retail price of gram dal has increased to Rs 67/kg now from Rs 53/kg three months back. Tur price has risen by Rs 4 to Rs 74/kg and masoor dal by Rs 8 to Rs 61/kg in the review period. Sugar price has increased to Rs 39/kg now as compared with Rs 35/kg three months back.
On various steps taken to curb food inflation, K V Thomas said the Government has been closely monitoring the drought situation in coordination with the State Governments to ensure timely availability of basic inputs like seed and fertilisers.
The Centre has prepared contingency plans for 320 districts and has advised states to prepare location specific alternatives along with state agri universities, he added.
To save standing crops, an empowered group of ministers had last month approved a diesel subsidy scheme to mitigate the hardships of marginal and small farmers.
It had also enhanced ceiling on seed subsidy to partially re-compensate the farmers for the expenditure in resowing or for purchasing drought-tolerant seed varieties.
According to the Agriculture Ministry data, farmers have sown kharif (summer) crops like paddy, pulses and coarse cereals in 80.2 million hectare till last week, down from 87.96 million hectare in the same period last year.
India produced record 257.44 million tonnes of foodgrains (rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses) in 2011-12 crop year (July-June), but the production is likely to fall in 2012-13 due to bad monsoon.
In 2009, the country faced a severe drought, lowering foodgrains output by 16 million tonnes in 2009-10 crop year.