Govt pegs 2.8% fall in kharif foodgrain output

The first advance estimate for India’s foodgrain production in the kharif (ending October) season of 2017-18 is estimated at 134.67 million tonnes. This is about 2.8 per cent less than the fourth estimate of last year and about 0.3 per cent less than the first estimate of 2016-17.

The drop is presumed to be due to uneven rain in some parts and a shift in acreage for some crops, particularly soybean, pulses and coarse cereals. A clearer picture will emerge in the coming months, when the final harvest starts hitting the market. This first estimate is a rough calculation, based on area covered.

In 2016-17 as well, the first advance estimate pegged foodgrain production at 135.03 million tonnes, which was subsequently revised up to 138.52 million tonnes in the fourth estimate released in August 2017.

“The estimated production of most during the current kharif season is estimated to be higher, compared to their normal production of the past five years. However, these are preliminary estimates and would undergo revision, based on further feedback from the states,” the government stated on Monday. The drop is also not expected to cause any big rise in prices. In the case of pulses, the Centre has a buffer stock of almost two million tonnes. In oilseeds, the international market is favourable. Overall agriculture growth might get pulled down to around 2.5 per cent, but much will depend on the final production estimate after the rabi (this season ends March) harvest. Agri growth might also drop because of a higher base. In cotton, total production is expected to be about 2.5 per cent less than last year despite more sowing area, due to poor rain in some of the main growing areas. However, when compared to the first estimate of 2016-17, the fall is about 0.5 per cent.

Production of pulses in this kharif, by this first advance estimate, is pegged at 8.71 million tonnes, which is 7.5 per cent less than the fourth estimate of last year, but again less than a per cent lower than the first estimate of 2016-17. In oilseeds, the kharif harvest is projected at 20.67 million tonnes, which is 7.7 per cent less than last year and 11.5 per cent less than the first estimate of 2016-17.

“The drop is mainly because of low acreage in oilseeds and pulses, but a clearer picture will emerge in the second and subsequent estimates,” Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at CARE Ratings, said. 

The advance estimate showed cotton production at 32.27 million bales (1 bale = 170 kilos), while jute output was pegged at 10.32 million bales (1 bale = 180 kilos).  

Sugarcane production in 2017-18, in this first estimate, is projected at 337.69 million tonnes, which is 10.1 per cent more than the fourth estimate of last year and 10.6 per cent more than the first estimate.

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