Late southwest monsoon surge limits kharif season production shortfall

The country’s foodgrain production in the 2019 kharif season is expected to be less by only 0.8 per cent, despite a delayed progress of the southwest monsoon. The reduced shortfall is largely because of good rainfall after-June, the government's first advanced estimate of 2019-20 foodgrains and commercial crop production has revealed. 

However, the estimates could change in the coming months, as full impact of excess rainfall and floods on the standing soybean and urad crops in central and western India in late August and September has not yet been fully taken into account. 

According to the estimates released on Monday, among cereals and pulses, rice production is projected to fall by 1.74 per cent due to delayed onset of rains over eastern India and also shift in some areas of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh towards more lucrative maize. 

The southwest monsoon in 2019 staged a smart recovery since July and is almost 5 per cent more than normal as on September 23, as against 33 per cent below normal in June-end. 

The four-month monsoon that starts from June contributes over 70 per cent of the country's total rainfall and is vital for its agriculture sector. 

The data showed that overall kharif pulses production is estimated to fall by 4.19 per cent to 8.23 million tonnes (mt) mainly due to drop in urad output. 

Kharif crops contribute around 40 per cent of India's annual pulses production, while the rest comes from the rabi season. 

This year, the standing urad crops in large parts of Madhya Pradesh were inundated due to excess rain, which could impact the final output as sowing started late. 

However, a final assessment is awaited. 

So far, according to the first estimates, urad production in the 2019 kharif season is expected to be 2.43 mt, which is 5.07 per cent less than the fourth advanced estimated of 2018-19. 

"These are preliminary estimates. If things remain as it is, there might not be a big increase in inflation in foodgrains and cereals in the coming months. However, the same cannot be said about horticulture crops, mainly onions, where prices have already started firming up," Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, CARE Ratings, told Business Standard. 

He said in case of pulses and rice, where production according to the first estimate is expected to less than last year, imports and stocks in hand in government godowns could keep prices under check. 

Meanwhile, the data showed that among commercial crops, oilseeds production in 2019 kharif season is expected to be 22.38 mt, which is 5.22 per cent more than the fourth estimate of 2018-19. Soybean production in 2019-20 is projected to fall by 2.03 per cent to 13.5 mt.

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