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India will produce about 277.5 million tonnes (mt) of food grains in 2017-18 as against the target of 274.5 mt set for the agricultural year, according to the second advance estimates of crop production released by the department of agriculture, cooperation and farmers welfare on Tuesday.
A record 24 mt of pulses are expected to be produced in 2017-18, and with imports of 5.1 mt already completed in the April–December period, this year will witness a consecutive year of over-supply on pulses to the tune of 30 mt, as against annual consumption of 23 mt in India.
Rice production of 96.5 mt trumped the first advance estimate of 94.5 mt. Similarly, two nutri-cereals, maize and bajra, exceeded their first advance estimate to take overall production to record levels.
Sugarcane production had fallen 12 per cent in 2016-17 to 3 billion tonnes, but has recovered 15 per cent to 3.5 billion tonnes this year. A recent survey estimated that sugar production in Maharashtra has doubled this year, which will improve India’s sugar output by 12 per cent to 29 mt.
The second advance crop production estimates were released on February 27, almost a fortnight later than their normal date of release of February 15.
Production of pulses in India had fallen to a six-year low of 16.3 mt in 2015-16 after back-to-back drought conditions in major growing regions, inflating their wholesale and retail price to record levels. This had prompted farmers across states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh to sow more, which resulted in a supply glut in 2016-17.
In 2017-18, after a price crash, sowing of tur and moong subsided, but that of urad (kharif crop) and gram (rabi crop) has continued to rise in the current year. With a considerable increase in urad and gram area and production, and a considerable reduction in soybean and wheat, Madhya Pradesh effectively impacted nationwide crop estimates this year.
Record production of kharif pulses — red gram, green gram and black gram —at 9.6 mt in 2016-17 dwindled in 2017-18 to 8.8 mt, but rabi pulses, held up by chana (gram), are expected to post a record production of 15.1 mt, from 13.5 mt in the previous year.
India effectively managed a surplus of about 13-14 million tonnes of pulses in two years, courtesy 30 mt of production in addition to 5-6 mt of imports for two consecutive years. This surplus would most probably get shipped out of India — after opening up of exports in December — or get stocked by traders to enter the market in times of shortage if the upcoming year shows poor monsoon and agricultural performance.
Wheat sowing went down 20 per cent in Madhya Pradesh, reducing its nationwide production from 98.5 mt in 2016-17 to an estimate of 97 mt in 2017-18. All major non-food crops — oilseeds, cotton, jute and sugarcane — are estimated to be produced at levels lower in 2017-18 than their all-time record which was achieved at some point in the last decade. Overall production growth is being led by revival of foodgrain production after consecutive droughts of 2014-15 and 2015-16, as against non-food crops which dominated agricultural growth in the crop sector in the last decade.