New Delhi: Buoyed by the forecast of a normal monsoon this year, the agriculture ministry has targeted a record 283.7 million tonnes of foodgrain production in 2018-19, about 6 million tonnes or 2% higher than the estimated 277.5 million tonnes produced the year before.

If these targets are met, it would mean the third straight year of food production surpassing the previous year’s record.

But, in the absence of an effective public procurement mechanism for crops like pulses and coarse grains, prices received by farmers could see a further erosion, fuelling anger in rural India in a year when elections will be held in states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Earlier this month, the India Meteorological Department forecast that the June-to-September south-west monsoon is likely to bring 97% of the normal seasonal rainfall. A normal monsoon in 2016 and 2017 led to successive years of record harvests and a crash in crop prices.

Targets released by the ministry at its annual kharif conference on Wednesday showed that it is targeting a record 113 million tonnes of rice and 100 million tonnes of wheat output in 2018-19. In 2017-18 production of rice and wheat are estimated at 111 million tonnes and 97 million tonnes, respectively, according to the second advance estimates released by the ministry in February.

The ministry is aiming at an output of 24 million tonnes of pulses and 36 million tonnes of oilseeds in 2018-19. While the target for pulses is similar to the estimated output last year, for oilseeds the target is higher by over 6 million tonnes compared to 2017-18.

Speaking at the conference, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said that the government will announce minimum support prices (MSP) of rain-fed kharif crops to ensure a 50% return over costs to farmers, as promised in the budget this year.

Singh added that the government will unveil a (price support) scheme to ensure that farmers benefit from MSP announcements, especially when crop prices fall below the floor price.

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