In the wake of the sudden southwest monsoon revival in some parts at the fag end of the 2015 season, the Centre on Tuesday upped its rabi foodgrain production target for 2015-16 to 133 million tonnes (mt), almost 6.62 mt more than the actual production of 2014-15.
"In the last one week or so, there has been a good rainfall in the rain-deficit states, so we have set an ambitious target of 132.78 mt (of foodgrain production) in rabi season this year," Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said, while addressing the rabi conference organised by the Union agriculture ministry.
According to the fourth advance estimate released last month by the government, the total foodgrain production from rabi (winter) crops in 2014-15 crop year was estimated at 126.38 mt. However, the Centre had set a target of 130.75 mt of foodgrain production for the 2014-15 crop year (July-June).
The minister said the government was expecting foodgrain output in the rabi season this year to be higher than the last year's production, despite less rainfall.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) expected that the enhanced activity of the southwest monsoon would bring good rainfall in several parts of the country for the next three-four days.
Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) too in its latest forecast predicted normal to above normal monsoon activity in the remaining part of the 2015 southwest monsoon season due to end in September, which is the last official month of the southwest monsoon.
Sowing of rabi crops starts in the first week of October and its harvesting begins in last week of March. Wheat is the main rabi crop of India.
Wheat production is estimated to have declined to 88.94 mt in 2014-15 crop year as against a record 95.85 mt achieved in the previous season, mainly due to unprecedented rains and hailstorm during the peak harvest months.
The government last week projected the country's total foodgrain production to drop marginally by 1.78 per cent to 124.05 mt in the 2015-16 kharif (summer) season in comparison to the fourth estimate of 2014-15 due to poor monsoon and drought-like situation in some states.
Foodgrain output stood at 126.31 mt in the kharif (summer) season of the 2014-15 crop year (July-June).
India's total foodgrain production is estimated to have declined by 4.66 per cent to 252.68 mt in 2014-15 crop year owing to poor monsoon and unseasonal rains in February and March months.
The country registered a record foodgrain production of 265 mt in 2013-14 crop year. Wheat, rice, coarse cereals and pulses are part of the foodgrain basket.
Informing of the steps taken by the government to minimise the effects of deficit rainfall, the agriculture minister said, to compensate farmers in the event of delay and deficit rainfall, enhanced seed subsidy was provided for oilseed crops.
"The subsidy went up from Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,800 per quintal in case of normal varieties and from Rs 2,500 to Rs 2,700 per quintal for hybrid varieties of oil seeds," he said.
The minister also informed that in order to address the needs of drought-affected areas, the government has announced the implementation of diesel subsidy scheme for crops irrigation with an allocation of Rs 100 crore.
He also added that during the current year, an outlay of Rs 440 crore has also been proposed to raise the output of pulses.
Similarly in oilseeds, the minister suggested that replacement of low-yielding wheat area with mustard would not only help us in reducing the dependency on import but also provide better returns to the farmers.