New Delhi: Boosted by a normal monsoon, India’s rain-fed Kharif harvest will be the highest ever in history, show first advance estimates of crop production released by the agriculture ministry on Thursday.
India’s Kharif foodgrain production is estimated at 135 million tonnes in 2016-17, 9% higher than the year before, when a crippling drought affected several states across India.
The foodgrain output this year is also 3.7% more than the record production of 131.3 million tonnes harvested during 2011-12, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said while releasing the data.
“The hard work of farmers and a favourable monsoon is the reason behind this record,” he added.
The record food production is expected to help bring down retail inflation further that could give more space to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut interest rates. RBI is scheduled to review monetary policy under its new governor Urjit Patel on 4 October.
According to estimates, a major boost to the foodgrain basket comes due to a record crop of Kharif pulses, which is likely at 8.7 million tonnes, 57% more than the production in 2015-16, and higher than the record 7.1 million tonnes harvested in 2010-11.
This year farmers in major pulse growing states increased planting area by 37% compared to normal, boosted by higher retail and wholesale prices over the past year.
Overall, sowing of Kharif crops were 4.4% more than normal or the average over the past five years.
According to the estimates, production of rice, the main Kharif crop is likely at 93.9 million tonnes, the highest ever in history, and 1.1 million tonnes higher than the previous record of 92.8 million tonnes harvested during 2011-12.
The only (non-foodgrain) Kharif crop likely to take a hit is sugarcane with an estimated production of 305 million tonnes, a 13% drop in production compared to last year (2015-16).
The government has set a target of producing 270 million tonnes of foodgrains during 2016-17, over 7% higher than the 252 million tonnes produced the year before, and even higher than the record 265 million tonnes Indian farmers produced during the bumper crop year of 2013-14. Total foodgrain production comprise of both Kharif and Rabi (winter crop) harvests.
The June to September south-west monsoon, which waters over half of India’s crop, has recorded a deficit of 5% so far, but 88% of the country’s area has received normal to excess rains. In 2014 and 2015, which were drought years, the rainfall deficit was 12% and 14%, respectively.