The Indian government on Thursday estimated record output of wheat and mustard crops but has projected a drop in rice production, a clear indication of the El Nino impact on kharif and rabi crops. 

 The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, in its second advance estimates for major crops for the 2023-24 season (July-June), pegged the overall foodgrain production at 309.35 mt compared with final estimates 329.69 mt for the 2022-23 crop year. However, the production will be updated with the summer (zaid) crop, including rice, which is sown after April. 

Wheat production has been projected at 112.02 mt against 110.55 mt last year. Rice production has been pegged at 123.57 mt with 111.46 mt coming from the kharif and 12.36 mt projected from the rabi crop. 

Rice production has been pegged lower as the southern States were the most affected by the El Nino, which resulted in deficient rainfall in the peninsular region. 

Major coarse cereals maize output is also lower by at least 6 mt at 32.47 mt - kharif 22.72 mt and rabi 9.75 mt - against 38.09 mt a year ago. The output of Shree Anna or nutri-cereals has been pegged at 15.38 taking the total production to 53.47 mt compared with 57.32 mt a year ago. 

Rabi foodgrain production has exceeded kharif output, a feature witnessed over the last few years. While kharif foodgrain output has been pegged at 154.19 mt, that of rabi foodgrain at 155.16 mt. 

The production of oilseeds this crop year has been pegged at 36.59 mt against 41.35 mt, though mustard has been projected at a record 126.99 mt (126.43 mt last year). Soyabean production, a kharif crop, has been pegged lower at 12.56 mt against 14.98 in the previous season. No estimate has been provided on groundnut, which is grown during kharif, rabi and zaid (summer). 

Also read: El Nino impact: Storage in 60% of Indian reservoirs below 50% of capacity 

The Agriculture Ministry estimated the production of key pulses such as tur at tad higher at 3.4 mt (3.31 mt last season). Gram (chana) production is projected lower at  12.16 mt compared with 12.27 mt. 

In its first advance estimate, the Centre estimated the kharif moong (green gram) production at  1.41 mt and that of urad (black matpe) at 1.51 mt. 

The second advance estimate also saw the Ministry of Agriculture raising the sugarcane production to 446.43 mt from 434.79 mt in the first estimate. Cotton production has been projected higher at 323.11 lakh bales (170 kg) from 316.57 lakh bales and jute to 92.17 lakh bales (180 kg) from 91.91 lakh bales. 

During the current crop year, India faced indifferent weather with the emergence of El Nino in June 2023. As a result, the country witnessed its driest August, while November experienced its sixth lowest rainfall.