Agri Business

Govt’s 1st estimate sees kharif food output dropping 2.8% to 134.67 mt

T V Jayan NEW DELHI | Updated on January 10, 2018 Published on September 25, 2017

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If so, lower rural demand may hit economy, say experts

Floods and erratic rainfall in different parts of the country may bring down the 2017 kharif foodgrain output to 134.67 million tonnes (mt) from a record harvest of 138.52 mt during the previous kharif season.

Rice output was estimated to fall to 94.48 mt, down 1.9 mt from 96.39 mt in the last kharif season, according to the first advance estimates for the year released by the Agriculture Ministry on Monday.

The drop in output was seen across all major rain-fed crops barring sugarcane, which registered a nearly 10 per cent increase in cropping area and a corresponding increase in output: 337.7 mt against 306.72 mt in kharif 2016.

Experts believe that the first estimates are a poor indicator of the eventual outcome. Abhijit Sen, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, however, said: “But if it holds, it may have an impact on farm incomes, which will be lower because of lower output. This would mean that the demand for other goods in rural areas will not recover the way the government was hoping it would. In other words, despite having two good monsoon in a row, private consumption expenditure will not go up and thus may have an impact on the overall economy.”

However, Agriculture Ministry officials remain hopeful. “The numbers are robust. We are on track. Early estimates are always on the lower side. But considering that there was 5 per cent less rains than the long-period average this time, the overall situation is good,” said a senior official.

The first advance estimates, the official noted, “is mainly based on the cropping area.”

The impact of floods is apparent on cotton cultivation. Despite having nearly 19 per cent increase in area under cultivation, the output is likely to fall sharply to 32.27 million bales (of 170 kg), against 33.09 million bales last year. Many cotton-growing districts in Gujarat were affected by floods.

While production of pulses is estimated to fall to 8.71 mt from 9.42 mt last year, coarse cereals output is projected to be down to 31.49 mt from 32.71 mt. Output of arhar dal and moong were projected to be 3.99 mt and 1.32 mt, respectively, against 4.78 mt and 1.62 mt, respectively, last year.

The output of urad, which was seen an increase of 22 per cent in cropping area, was estimated to be 2.53 mt, which is 17 per cent higher than the last kharif season.

The worst hit

The worst hit seemed to be oilseeds, whose projected output was 20.68 mt, 7.7 per cent down from 22.4 mt.

The official said there is no worry on the pulses front. “Despite having a lesser area under pulses than last year, we are told that the condition of the crops is very good and productivity levels are expected to be better,” he said.

“But the problem could be for oilseeds. If it falls further from last year, we may have to import more,” said Sen.

Published on September 25, 2017
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