Friday, October 11, 2013

Extended rains boost rabi crop prospects

India's wheat output to exceed record of 94.9 mt set in 2011-12 crop year (July-June)

Extended rains across the country have led to hopes of a rise in rabi crop acreage. This follows estimates of a bumper kharif crop this year.

At a recent meeting, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had said India's wheat output was expected to exceed the record of 94.9 million tonnes (mt) in the 2011-12 crop year (July-June). “The government hopes this rabi season, wheat production would achieve another milestone, given the right amount of moisture available in the soil and various interventions by the central and state governments,” he had said.

In the 2012-13 crop year, wheat production had declined to 92.5 mt. Production of other major rabi crops, including barley, mustard seed and chana, is also likely to rise due to the likelihood of higher acreage this season.

This year, the onset of the southwest monsoon was on time and most areas recorded normal rains. However, in some areas in Bihar, Jharkhand and the northeast, rainfall stood at only 20-30 per cent of the long-period average. Pawar said good rains in July and August had raised hopes of a bumper harvest this year. A dry September would help the rice crop mature well in north India, he added.

Against last year's kharif foodgrain production of 128.2 mt, this year's production was pegged at 129.32 mt, according to the first advance estimate.

This year’s rabi crop yield could be very high if winter rains were timely and temperatures favourable, said Prerana Desai, vice-president (research), Kotak Commodity Services.

Prasoon Mathur, a Religare Commodities analyst, said for the rabi crop, the climate had turned favourable, with spells of rains. However, increased soil moisture would be a hurdle to harvesting kharif crops, albeit for a short period. “Initial indications are the rabi crop output will remain high this year,” said Mathur.

“The extended monsoon will be good for the rabi crop and given the monsoon is expected to be favourable, we can continue to see good prospects for agriculture. But given the higher base of last year, our forecast for agri output will be 3- 3.5 per cent this year. Wheat, in particular, would do well,” said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, CARE Ratings.

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