New Delhi: The government estimates a record foodgrain production of 227.3 million tonnes in 2007-08, a jump more than 10 million tonnes (mt) over the previous year—a number that should bring some cheer to policy makers scrambling to cope with the spurt in inflation, led by food products.
According to the third advance estimates, which are prepared in March-April every year, much of this increase was on account of higher production of coarse cereals such as sorghum and millet.
Ramesh Chand, professor at the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, said: “The foodgrain estimates are very encouraging. They will help in checking any further spike in inflation but won’t reduce it.”
Inflation, as measured by the wholesale price index was 7.14% for the week ended 5 April.
“Foodgrain production is at an all-time high so also production of rice, wheat, coarse cereals, maize, pulses, tur, urad, oilseeds, soya bean and cotton. Foodgrain production has also been experiencing a consistent rise in the last three years,” said P.K. Mishra, India’s agriculture secretary.
Mishra attributed this to programmes such as the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and the National Food Security Mission (NFSM), and to the use of quality seeds and good rainfall.
In each successive estimates, (there are five in all) earlier advance estimates of both kharif (the summer season) and rabi (the winter crop) seasons are refined based on information from the states.
Analysts say a good crop rather than concerted initiatives have led to record productions this year.
According to Ashok Gulati, crops director in Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute, the growth in Indian agriculture is a step function, which stagnates for three to four years and then spikes.
Gulati attributed the current rise to a good kharif season. “During kharif, the real fluctuation happens in coarse cereals, which are generally around 30mt of foodgrain. Much of the increase in this year’s foodgrain production has come from them,” he said.
Data on major rabi crops such as rice, gram, pulses, oil seeds, mustard and rapeseed shows a decline in production in 2007-08, compared with 2006-07. Wheat was the only major crop that saw a rise, that too of 1.3%.
Gulati, however, sees good arrivals of wheat in Punjab and Haryana this season. “I expect the wheat prices to crash, both locally and globally, in the next few months because of high production, ” he added