With the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasting a normal monsoon, estimating rainfall of 98 per cent of the long period average of 89 centimetres, foodgrain production in the coming kharif season is expected to be good, said India’s Agriculture Commissioner SK Malhotra on Friday.

“In 2020-21, we are expecting a record 303 million tonnes of foodgrain output as per the second advance estimates. The coming year is also expected to be good if we go by the current IMD predictions. All four monsoon months (June to September) are expected to receive good rains,” Malhotra said.

The Centre’s programmes to improve productivity and production are implemented through the States. The States also give us feedback on problems relating to agricultural production.

As India has so many crops, the problem is also plenty, he said. Through the discussions with the States as well as monitoring carried out by various divisions, the department comes to know the problems faced by the States.

Problems monitored

“We note down all the problems, crop-wise. Subsequently, these problems are segmented into different sections and discussed in various sub-groups. Then these problems are communicated to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), which has 101 research institutions. “If ICAR has any ready solutions to the problems listed they communicate the same to us. Sometimes when they do not have a ready answer, they give us an ad-hoc solution which can be used till the time a solution can be found through the conduct of research,” Malhotra said.

Subsequently, all the problems are compiled together and discussed in a high-level meeting held between senior officials of the Department and ICAR where the solutions are discussed threadbare.

This meeting organised by the Office of the Agriculture Commissioner is attended by Agriculture Secretary as well as ICAR chief, who is also the Secretary to the Department of Agricultural Research and Education.

The solutions are passed on to the States subsequently at the national conferences held before every crop season. The national conference for the 2021 kharif season, for instance, would be held on April 30, Malhotra said.

Summer crops planted

Meanwhile, the States planted summer crops over an area of 73.76 lakh hectares (lha) till Friday during the current season, 22 per cent more than the corresponding period last year.

At 39.1 lha, rice accounted for more than 50 per cent of the area. Compared with the same period last year, the area under rice is up 16 per cent this year. The area under pulses crop registered a 98 per cent rise at 12.75 lha. Major summer oilseeds – groundnut and sesamum – too increased by 16 and 14 per cent respectively to 5.82 lha and 4 lha.

Since March 1, the country as whole received 41 millimetres of summer rains against the normal of 57.4 mm – 29% deficiency. The live water storage available in 130 reservoirs in the country was 82% of the live storage corresponding period last year.