Amid concerns over a possible shortfall in output due to lower acreage and deficit rainfall, government’s agriculture research agency ICAR has said the production in the current kharif season would be “more or less same as that of last year.” The farmers will continue planting paddy, the main crop of kharif season, until August-end, ICAR’s director-general Trilochan Mohapatra said and expressed confidence that the current shortfall in sowing area would be recovered.
India had produced a record 142.75 million tonne (MT) of foodgrains — rice, wheat, pulses and coarse cereals — in 2018 kharif even as the monsoon was 9% below normal. This year, the sowing of kharif crops is slow due to late and deficient monsoon. The total acreage of kharif crops was down 9% until July 12 from a year-ago level while paddy area was lower by 11%.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)’s foundation day, Mohapatra said due to higher yielding and drought- and flood-resistant varieties developed by the agency, the rice production has increased from 85 MT in 2008-09 (kharif) to 102 MT in 2018-19, while the area remains the same at 39-40 million hectare. He said any shortfall in foodgrains production in deficient area would be offset by higher yield in regions where there is normal or excess rainfall.
According to the India Meteorological Department, the seasonal monsoon rainfall was 14% lower than normal while 46% of the geographical areas has received normal rain, as of July 16. The ICAR D-G also said rains in the coming months would be crucial. The weather bureau has predicted normal rain in August and September.
Earlier addressing the conference, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the country had succeeded in becoming self-sufficient in foodgrain production. But, the farm sector is facing many challenges in the form of water scarcity, ensuring right prices to farmers for their crops, market linkage and significant jump in agri-exports. He advised scientists to develop technology that can boost productivity of rain-fed crops as it might be difficult to meet water demand in agriculture in future.
Tomar expressed concern over young generation’s reluctance to take up farming and stressed on the need to reverse this trend. “It’s a challenge before our ministry as well as ICAR to see that acreage and production of crop do not decline. People must also not lose interest in agriculture,” the minister said.