The government’s foodgrain storage woes have turned more acute, with foodgrain production for 2011-12 estimated at an all-time high of 252.56 million tonnes, almost 3.1 per cent more than that the previous year's production. This may help provide a minor boost to India's economic growth in the previous financial year, estimated at 6.9 per cent.
While releasing the third advanced estimates of agricultural production in 2011-12, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said storing such huge quantities of grain was a concern. “The overall foodgrain production is good. The only problem is storage,” Pawar told reporters, adding the issue was being addressed by the food ministry.
In the second advanced estimates, foodgrain production was projected at 250.42 million tonnes. The Meteorological Department is scheduled to release its forecast for monsoon this financial year in a few days.
Pawar had recently urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to call a high level meeting of all stakeholders to discuss the storage problem. He had said if the issue was not resolved, it might affect the morale of growers.
According to official estimates, the country's foodgrain stocks are expected to rise to 74 million tonnes by June-end, compared with the available storage capacity of about 64 million tonnes.
Grain inventories in government warehouses at the beginning of the current financial year was estimated at about 54 million tonnes, a whopping 152 per cent more than the buffer and strategic reserve norms. The stocks are expected to rise further, as state agencies have started procuring the bumper wheat harvest. The production of mustard seeds, sown in the rabi season, is expected to fall by about 14.8 million tonnes, owing to poor winter rains in the primary mustard seed-growing regions of central and western India.
The estimates released on Monday pegged wheat output this year at 90.23 million tonnes, almost 3.8 per cent more than last year's. The production of rice was estimated at 103.41 million tonnes, a 7.74 per cent rise compared to the previous year.
The poor mustard output is also expected to pull down oilseed production this year to about 30 million tonnes, against 32.4 million tonnes in the previous year.