Kharif foodgrain production may fall below last year’s level of 126.31 million tonnes (mt) if crucial September rains are not well distributed, the government’s premier agri-research body Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) said today.

According to the Met Department, the country received 12 per cent less rains so far. Much affected areas are parts of Maharashtra, north interior Karnataka, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand, among others.

“Rains in September are very important. If September rains are well distributed, kharif production is still expected to be at least as good as last year or better than last year. If September troubles us, we will be still not reaching last year’s level,” IARI new Director Trilochan Mohapatra told PTI.

In the 2014-15 kharif season, foodgrain production was estimated to have fallen to 126.31 mt, from 128.69 mt in 2013-14 due to poor rains, according to the Agriculture Ministry data. Stating that any likely increase in kharif output would depend on the well-distributed September rains, Mohapatra said, “Even if you have a 10-12 per cent rainfall deficit, it may not matter much if it is evenly distributed.”

Transplanting of rice, the main kharif crop, is still going on in some States such as Bihar and Odisha and farmers would continue that till September-end, he said.

On crop condition of pulses and oilseeds, the IARI chief said these crops do not require much water, but they would suffer from extreme weather conditions.

According to the Ministry data, farmers have sown kharif crops on 96.78 million hectares till August 28 of the ongoing kharif season that started from June, against 95.69 million hectares in the year-ago period.

Rice has been sown on 34.58 million hectares, coarse grains on 17.25 million hectares, oilseeds on 17.45 million hectares and pulses on 10.55 million hectares in the said period.