Record foodgrain production signals a recovery in agriculture
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Indian farmers, battling adversities on farms and off them, have brought glad tidings for the rest of the nation. Foodgrain production is set to rise to a record 277.5 million tonnes in 2017-18, according to the agriculture ministry.
- At this level, food production is about 0.9% higher than the 275.1 million tonnes produced in 2016-17, also a record crop year, the second advance estimates of crop production released by the ministry showed on Tuesday. The crop year is from July to June.
- While higher production of foodgrains and non-food crops like cotton and sugarcane suggest a recovery in agriculture is underway, the record foodgrain production and likely fall in output prices puts the spotlight on the proposed minimum support price (MSP) policy.
- “The latest estimates are a good news in the sense that it shows farmers haven’t lost hope despite all their problems,” said Siraj Hussain, former agriculture secretary and a fellow at the Delhi-based Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. “We can only hope that farmers will receive a fair price for their bumper harvest… but the challenge is that the reasons for unremunerative prices—be it due to low global prices or market imperfections—is not fully understood yet.”
- The new MSP policy, assuring 50% returns over cost to farmers, comes into effect in the next crop year beginning July.
- Data from the agriculture ministry projected production of rice, coarse grains and pulses to rise during the year that of wheat is likely to drop by 1.4% to 97.1 million tonnes in 2017-18 from 98.5 million tonnes in the previous years.
- While India’s rice output is estimated to rise to about 111 million tonnes in 2017-18 from 109.7 million tonnes a year earlier, production of pulses is likely at a record 24 million tonnes, up from 23 million tonnes the year before. Among different pulse varieties production of chana (gram) is estimated to rise by a staggering 18% to over 11 million tonnes in 2017-18
- The estimates further showed that India’s oilseed production is likely to decline 4.4% to 29.9 million tonnes in 2017-18 from 31.3 million tonnes in the previous year. The fall in oilseeds output is driven by a sharp 13% drop in production of soybean
- However, the record food grain production during the year may not boost India’s farm sector growth rate due to the base effect of 2016-17, which also was a record crop year. The pace of growth is estimated to decline to 2.1% in 2017-18 from 4.9% the year before, the central statistics office said in early January.