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Business News/ Economy / El Nino hits foodgrain production in 2023-24 crop year

El Nino hits foodgrain production in 2023-24 crop year

Government estimates foodgrain output in the ongoing fiscal year to drop by 6% to 309 million tonnes

The government has pegged its foodgrain production estimate for both kharif and rabi seasons lower due to a patchy monsoon.Premium
The government has pegged its foodgrain production estimate for both kharif and rabi seasons lower due to a patchy monsoon.

NEW DELHI : India’s foodgrain production is estimated to be 6.1% lower in the 2023-24 crop year (July-June) because of poor monsoon caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, potentially adding to inflationary pressures ahead of the general election.

Total foodgrain production in 2023-24 is estimated to be 309 million tonnes (mt), according to the second advance estimates issued by the agriculture and farmers’ welfare ministry on Thursday.

Foodgrain production in the 2022-23 crop year was pegged at 329.6 mt, as per the government’s final estimates. 

Despite the poor monsoon, the government has raised its kharif foodgrain production estimate to 154.1 mt from the 148.5 mt it had projected in October. The agriculture ministry anticipates rabi foodgrain production in the current crop year to be 155.1 mt. 

However, overall foodgrain production for both kharif and rabi seasons (monsoon and winter crops) has been pegged lower on year due to patchy monsoon, weighing on water reservoir levels and shifting the crop calendar. 

Lower crop output may keep the prices of some crops such as rice, tur, urad and maize firm, adding to the inflationary pressure.

In the first advance estimate, the government only releases kharif crops data. In the second advance estimate, it releases data for rabi and revises the kharif data.

Production of wheat, the main rabi crop, is estimated to be a record 112 mt, against last year’s 110.55 mt. Rice output, however, is estimated lower at 123.8 mt from last season’s 135.7 mt.  

The estimate on tur production for the current season has been lowered to 3.33 mt from the October estimate of 3.42 mt, but on par with the previous year’s output. 

“Tur harvesting is still progressing, which may result in further changes in successive estimates," the agriculture and farmers’ welfare ministry said in a statement. 

Production of gram or chana crop is estimated at 12.1 mt, which is marginally lower from previous year’s gram production but higher than the average (2018-19 to 2022-23). Production of lentil or masoor is estimated at 1.63 mt, 77,000 tonnes higher than the previous year’s production of 1.55 mt. 

Production of nutri or coarse cereals has been estimated at 50 mt, including 4 mt of jowar, against 57.3 in the 2022-23 crop year. In the case of maize, the government estimates production to drop to 32.4 mt from the previous year’s 38 mt. 

While the production of soybean is estimated at 12.5 mt, output of rapeseed and mustard crop is expected to be 12.6 mt, similar to last year’s production.  

The estimate for cotton production has been raised to 32.3 million bales (1 bale = 170 kg) from the 31.6 million bales estimated in October. This, however, is expected to be lower than the previous year’s output of 33.6 million bales. 

The government estimates sugarcane production to be lower at 446.4 mt compared to 490.5 mt last year, but higher than the October estimates of 434.7 mt. 

In preparing kharif crop production estimates, the government takes into account the crop cutting experiments-based yield. However, states are still compiling the results of kharif CCEs. Further, CCEs of crops such as tur, sugarcane, and castor are still ongoing. 

Also, the rabi crop production is based on the preliminary area sown report and the average yield. Which means, these figures are subject to change in successive estimates. 

The production of various summer crops will be included in the third advance estimate, likely in May.

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Puja Das
Puja Das is a New Delhi based reporter, covering food, farm, fertiliser, water, and climate change policies for Mint. Puja reports on food security, farmers' distress and how the agriculture sector is impacting India's rural economy along with policy initiatives to help meet the pledges made at COP21 in Paris. Puja holds a post-graduation degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore.
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Published: 29 Feb 2024, 10:24 PM IST
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