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Despite rain shortage, kharif holding up

Govt's 1st advance estimate shows output might be only slightly down over last year's final one for the season, due to early onset of monsoon and its relatively better distribution

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Despite rain shortage, kharif holding up

A less than normal southwest monsoon over almost 30 per cent of the country seems to have been balanced by its timely onset and rather uniform distribution, leaving little impact on kharif farm production.

According to the first advance estimate of foodgrain production, issued by the ministry of agriculture on Wednesday, output in the 2015-16 kharif season is expected to be 124.05 million tonnes, almost four mt more than the first estimate of the 2014-15 kharif output.

This is despite cumulative rainfall in the current monsoon season being deficient by 15 per cent, higher than the l deficit of 12 per cent in 2014-15. The statement attributed it to timely onset of the monsoon and the government’s interventions with contingency plans, timely advisories and monitoring of seed and fertiliser availability.

However, when compared to the final kharif production of 2014-15, this year's first advance estimate is 2.26 mt less. The record so far is 131.27 mt foodgrain production in 2011-12. Compared to the fourth advance estimate of 2014-15, close to the final figure for the year, kharif production of rice, coarse cereals and pulses are likely to fall this year. The estimates are preliminary and could undergo revision, the statement added.

The first estimate shows rice output declining to 90.61 mt in the 2015-16 kharif against 90.86 mt in the same season the previous year. However, compared to the 2014-15 first estimate, production is expected to increase by 2.59 mt.

Similarly, in relation to the fourth estimate of 2014-15, coarse cereals production is likely to drop to 27.88 mt this kharif, from 29.82 mt in the 2014-15 season. Output of pulses is projected to fall to 5.56 mt from 5.63 mt in the said period.

From the first advance estimate of 2014-15, coarse cereals production is 0.83 mt more, while pulses production in the season is expected to be 0.36 mt higher.

Among pulses, production of tur (pigeon pea) is estimated to decline to 2.61 mt in the 2015-16 kharif from the 2014-15 fourth estimate of 2.71 mt. Urad (black gram) production is projected to increase to 1.37 mt from 1.27 mt in the period under review, using the same measure.

“In the past few days, monsoon rains have revived in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana that will improve the prospects of pulses production,” Agriculture Secretary Siraj Hussain told PTI.

It was mainly pulses which was an exception to the falling retail inflation and wholesale prices. Retail prices rose 22.9 per cent in pulses, while wholesale prices surged 65.3 per cent. Interestingly, oilseeds production is likely to increase to 19.89 mt this kharif, from 18.32 mt in the fourth estimate of the year-ago period.

Cotton, one of the main cash crops grown during kharif, is expected to be 33.5 million bales, down from the 2014-15 first estimate of 34.62 mn (a bale is 170 kg).

Experts say kharif output would be slightly better this time than the previous year's but the deficient monsoon could hit rabi crops, which depend on soil moisture.

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First Published: Wed, September 16 2015. 22:33 IST