Our Bureau

New Delhi, Sept. 16

FOODGRAIN production for the current kharif is expected to be 1.9 per cent higher at 105.25 million tonnes (mt) compared with 103.32 mt last year, according to the first advance estimates for 2005-06.

"The first advance estimates have placed overall kharif foodgrain production for 2005-06 up by 1.9 per cent at 105.25 mt as against the previous year," the Agriculture Secretary, Ms Radha Singh, told reporters after the two-day rabi campaign for 2005-06.

The overall foodgrain production target still stands at 215 mt for 2005-06, which includes 110 mt for kharif and 105 mt for rabi.

Rice is expected to be 3 per cent higher at 73.83 mt as against 71.67 mt last year, she said.

"The overall production prospects for all crops except coarse cereals and soyabean appear to be bright," she said adding that many States were fairly upbeat so far as coverage area was concerned. They anticipated a better rabi season since all the reservoirs were full, she said.

The total oilseeds production is expected to be 2.5 per cent down at 14.56 mt this kharif season as against the previous season when the production stood at 14.94 mt.

The first estimates also puts the cotton production at 15.9 million bales of 170 kg each, which is 6.5 per cent lower than 17 million bales last year. However, the exact picture about the cotton output would be clear after three months with the second advanced estimates, Ms Singh said. One of the main reasons for higher cotton production this year was increase in acreage under Bt variety, she said. However, soyabean was expected to record a 12.4 per cent decline in production at 6.58 mt against 7.51 mt last year. "The soyabean crop got affected this year due to delayed monsoon," Ms Singh said.

Production of kharif coarse cereals is pegged at 26.44 mt for 2005-06, which is 1 per cent lower than 26.7 mt production in the previous year.

As for pulses, the estimates for 2005-06 standat 4.98 mt, which is 0.6 per cent higher than 4.95 mt in 2004-05.

Sugarcane production this year is expected to increase by 10.9 per cent at 257.72 mt against 232.32 mt in 2004-05.

Market-linked estimate for cotton

The ministry favours a market-linked cotton production estimates as against field-based estimation figures.

"We are favouring cotton production estimates which is linked with actual arrivals at markets rather than estimates at the cotton fields," Ms Singh said.

Onthe current disparity in cotton production estimates between the Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) and National Statistical Organisation (NSO), she said the ministry wasin talks with the NSO to take into consideration the actual difference in estimates. "We will ask the NSO to take into consideration the huge gap in production estimates," she said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 17, 2005)
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