Foodgrain output set to be record 250 MT this year

New Delhi: India`s foodgrains production, for the second year in a row, is expected to be a record 250.42 million tonne in 2011-12 crop year, bolstered by a significant contribution from eastern belt, specially Bihar and Jharkhand. Last year, the country had harvested a record 244.78 million tonne (MT) of foodgrain, that includes rice, wheat and coarse cereals.

"Extra 12-13 MT of rice has come from the eastern belt alone and as a result the overall foodgrains output has touched a record 250.42 MT," Agriculture Secretary P K Basu told reporters here today. Both rice and wheat production are seen to set fresh records at 88.31 MT and 102.75 MT in 2011-12 crop year (July-June), respectively, he said, after the release of the second advance crop estimate today.

In 2010-11, wheat output was at 86.87 MT and rice production at 95.98 MT. The record foodgrains production would help the government introduce the Food Security Bill, which aims to provide cheaper grains to the poor. It also means that the government may continue export of rice and wheat for some time considering storage concerns.

Highlighting the performance of the eastern states, Basu said: "Bihar and Jharkhand, known as laggard states in agriculture production and productivity, have outperformed in yields as their rice output has more than doubled to 6.75 MT and 3.3 MT, respectively, this year."

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on August 15, 2011, had said that a second Green Revolution is needed to increase farm production and control rising food prices, as well as to meet the grain requirement under the proposed Food Law. As per the second advance estimate, production of coarse cereals is estimated be slighly lower at 42.08 MT in 2011-12 crop year, against 43.68 MT last year. Of this, maize output is estimated to be 16.10 MT.

Similarly, production of pulses is estimated to be lower at 17.28 MT, as against 18.24 MT in the reviewed period. "Pulses output is not that bad. The production is seen lower as there was area loss in Maharashtra and Rajasthan due to less rainfall. In Maharashtra, especially, there was shift to cotton crops," Basu said. As regard to oilseeds, their output is estimated to be less at 30.52 MT this year as against 32.47 MT in 2010-11. Of which, production of soyabean and sunflower is pegged at 12 MT and 0.56 MT, respectively.

Among cash crops, cotton production is set to be a record 34.08 million bales (of 170 kg each) this year, as against 33 million bales. Similarly, sugarcane production is also expected to be a record 347.86 million tonnes, as against 342.38 million tonnes in the review period.

However, jute ouput is likely to be lower at 11.61 million bales (of 180 kg each) this year, as against 10.62 million bales last year. Noting that eastern region has potential to increase foodgrains output, Basu said that the efforts are being made to reduce the stress on agriculture in Punjab and Haryana and focus more on eastern states.