Moving from the eighth to fifth position in sowing areas among the top ten rice producers this year, Madhya Pradesh has even exceeded Punjab, the country’s leading rice producer of kharif season. If the productivity matches the Punjab level, Madhya Pradesh may soon become the largest producer of rice, although at the cost of some pulses and oilseed crops.

The area under paddy in MP has surged 53 per cent to 32.2 lakh hectare in the current kharif season, with production estimated to go up 46 per cent to 70.36 lakh tonnes (lt), according to the first advance estimate of the Union Agriculture Ministry. On the other hand, Punjab is likely to become the largest producer of kharif season with an estimated 133.78 lt of rice from an area of 31.33 lh.

Uttar Pradesh, the top rice producer in kharif season, is likely to slip to second place with 124.8 lt from an area of 57.8 lh. Though the area under paddy transplanting in UP is higher by 1.8 per cent, the lower rainfall in July-August could be the reason for a lower yield. The state had received 53 per cent, 43 per cent and 41 per cent below-normal rains during June, July and August, respectively. But September had 31 per cent above average rainfall.

The average yield in Punjab is stagnant at 4.3 tonne per hectare, whereas in the MP it is around 2.1-2.2 tonne, leaving scope for further improvement. Farmers of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh prefer to grow wheat in rabi and paddy in kharif since the government procures these crops at minimum support prices.

“For four continuous years, MP beat Punjab to bag the national award for top producing state in wheat. Unless and until the government provides incentives for oilseeds and pulses, the rice area will keep increasing,” said Shiv Kumar Kakka, president of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh. He noted with continuous efforts, and farmers could grow paddy in black soil despite the contrary belief.

“Except some districts in Malwa, Nimad regions and areas around Bhopal and Vidisha, rice has reached almost all of Madhya Pradesh,” he said and held the government’s pulses import policy was responsible for farmers switching to this crop.

However, another leader, Sunilam, said farmers in the Chhindwara region continue to grow maize, and he did not see such a trend of shifting to paddy.

Area under pulses and oilseeds

The area under kharif pulses, including tur, urad and moong, increased to 23.31 lh this year from 19.99 lh last season, due to which the government estimated production of all pulses at 12.93 lh against 12.11 lt last year in Madhya Pradesh. The coarse cereals output in the state has been estimated at 64.27 lt from an area of 22.11 lh against 57.54 lt from 19.59 lh year-ago. The soyabean production is reduced to 51.53 lt from an area of 50.18 lh against 53.93 lt out of a 55.14 lh area.