Food production exceeds target in 2017-18, say second advance estimates

Foodgrains of about 277.5 million tonnes (mt) will be produced in 2017-18 as against the target of 274.5 mt, according to the second advance estimates of crop production released on Tuesday by the department of agriculture, cooperation, and farmers’ welfare.

A record 24 mt of pulses is expected to be produced in 2017-18, and with imports of 5.1 mt in the April-December period, this will be a second consecutive financial year in which there will be an over-supply of pulses against annual consumption of 23 mt.

Rice production will be 96.5 mt against the first advance estimate of 94.5 mt.

Similarly, two nutri-cereals, maize and bajra, beat their first advance estimate to take overall production to record levels.

Sugarcane production had fallen 12 per cent in 2016-17 to 3 billion tonnes, but went up 15 per cent to 3.5 billion tonnes this year. A recent survey estimated that sugar production in Maharashtra doubled this year, which will improve India’s sugar output by 12 per cent to 29 mt.

Pulses production in India reached a six-year low of 16.3 mt in 2015-16 after back-to-back drought conditions in major growing regions, taking wholesale and retail prices to record levels. This had prompted farmers in states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh to sow more, and that resulted in a supply glut in 2016-17.

In 2017-18, after a price crash, the sowing of tur and moong subsided, but that of urad (kharif crop) and gram (rabi crop) continued to rise. With a considerable increase in the acreage and production of urad and gram, and a reduction in both for soyabean and wheat, Madhya Pradesh had an impact on nationwide crop estimates this year.

Kharif pulses, including red gram, green gram and black gram, which saw record production at 9.6 MT in 2016-17, dwindled in 2017-18 to 8.8 MT, but rabi pulses, held up by chana (gram), are expected to post record production of 15.1 mt , from 13.5 mt in the previous year.  

India managed a surplus of about 13-14 million tonnes of pulses in two years. This surplus will most probably be shipped out of India after the opening up of exports in December. Alternatively, traders may stock them for selling in times of shortage.

Wheat sowing went down 20 per cent in Madhya Pradesh, reducing its nationwide production from 98.5 MT in 2016-17 to an estimate of 97 MT in 2017-18.

The production of all major non-food crops — oilseeds, cotton, jute, and sugarcane — is estimated to go below their record levels achieved at some point in the past 10 years. Overall production growth is being led by the revival of foodgrains production after the consecutive drought years of 2014-15 and 2015-16.

The second advance crop production estimates were released almost 14 days after their normal date of release, which is February 15.

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