India set for record kharif crop harvest
Foodgrain output in the ongoing 2017-18 kharif season is likely to surpass last year's record of 138.04 million tonnes due to higher acreage and good monsoon for the second straight year, Agriculture Secretary Shobhana K Pattanayak said on Sunday.
So far, more than 80 per cent of the sowing of kharif crops -- paddy, pulses, oilseeds, cotton, sugarcane and jute -- has been completed and the planting will continue in some parts till next month, Pattanayak said in an interview.
About 19 lakh hectare of crop area has been affected by floods across the country and farmers are likely to take up other kharif crops once the water recedes, he said, expressing concern about poor rains in some parts of Karnataka.
"I am certain overall kharif foodgrain output will be more than last year," he said.
While there were floods in some states, there was drought -like situation in parts of Karnataka, he said, adding that there has still been close to 3 per cent jump in the acreage under kharif crops so far.
Pattanayak said farmers in flood-hit areas will replant other crops in 19 lakh hectare once water recedes, but the situation in Karnataka has not yet improved.
"South interior Karnataka continues to be problematic, but some rains had come, let's see," he said.
Till last week, farmers had sown kharif crops in 878.23 lakh hectare as against 855.85 lakh hectare in the year-ago period, as per the Agriculture Ministry's latest data.
Paddy - the main kharif (summer) crop - was sown in 280.03 lakh hectare, as against 266.93 lakh hectare, while pulses covered 121.28 lakh hectare as against 116.95 lakh hectare in the said period.
However, oilseeds acreage was down at 148.88 lakh hectare till last week of the kharif season from 165.49 lakh hectare in the same period last year.
This, Pattanayak said, should not be an issue. "It is lower so far, but the sowing window is not over. They (farmers) will take up little later on marginal lands.
Overall, it is not bad."
He said the overall acreage for all pulses is higher, except tur. With regard to cash crop, he said that the overall area sown to cotton and sugarcane is higher than last year so far and the output is also expected to be better.
"The cotton acreage has gone up substantially, but part of the area is affected in Gujarat due to floods. Farmers may grow other crops like pulses."
As per the data, cotton acreage has increased to 114.34 lakh hectare so far in the 2017-18 kharif season from 96.48 lakh hectare in the year-ago period on account of good rains and better prices.
Similarly, acreage under sugarcane has gone up to 49.71 lakh hectare from 45.64 lakh hectare in the said period because of good monsoon and timely payment of cane arrears by sugar mills.
In the 2016-17 kharif season, foodgrain output was record at 138.04 million tonnes while previous record was 128.65 MT achieved during the 2013-14 kharif season.
Production of paddy stood at 96.09 MT, pulses at 9.12 MT, coarse cereals at 32.84 MT, oilseeds at 22.8 MT, cotton at 30.5 million bales in the 2016-17 kharif season, as per the ministry's data.