The rural economy is set to have a prosperous year in 2018-19. Thanks to the efforts of the government to protect farmers’ interest, foodgrain production is set to touch a record number in 2018-19 despite deficit monsoon rainfall.
The Southwest monsoon season that lasts for four months from June to September has neared its end. Rainfall during the first three months was near normal but dipped sharply in September. Cumulative rainfall in the country as a whole stood at 798 mm, lower by 9 per cent of the LPA of 879.6 mm in the corresponding time period.
Each meteorological region has received less than normal rainfall with the east and northeast region of India recording the highest departure at -25 per cent of LPA. Central and northwest India received normal rainfall with a small departure at -6 per cent and -2 per cent of LPA, respectively. Out of the 36 sub-meteorological regions, 23 regions have received normal rainfall while 12 regions fall in the deficit zone. Only 1 region has received excess rainfall in the country, which means 64 per cent of the meteorological region of country has received normal rainfall during the season while 33 per cent has received deficit rainfall. As the monsoon is in its final days, it is mostly likely that the south west monsoon will end with a larger deficiency than last year.
Kharif sowing activities which coincides with the southwest monsoon in the country progressed at a pace corresponding to the rainfall performance. Area under the kharif crop are almost similar to that of last season and stood at 1,052.38 lakh hectares, marginally lower by 20.4 lakh hectares from last year area of 1072.79 lakh hectares. Area under major food grains such as rice, pulses, cereals and oilseeds have noted a minute rise or fall – rice (-2.4 per cent year-on-year), pulses (-3.8 per cent), coarse cereals (-5.9 per cent), oilseeds (1.6 per cent), sugarcane (9 per cent) and cotton (-1.5 per cent).
As the agriculture ministry released its first advance production estimates for 2018-19, total foodgrain production was estimated at a record 141.59 million tonnes, marginally higher than both targeted production as well as last year production. The production trend is mostly mixed for different food crops due to change in their cultivation areas. Rice production is stated to increase to 99.24 million tonnes, higher by 1.8 per cent from 97.50 million tonnes last year. Jowar crop is estimated at around 1.88 million tonnes, down 10.5 per cent due to decline in area under cultivation. Meanwhile, maize production increased 6 per cent to 21.47 million tonnes.
Pulses production declined by 1.3 per cent to 9.22 million tonnes mainly because of lesser urad and tur production. On the other hand, kharif oilseeds production is expected around 22.18 million tonnes, thanks to the sharp surge in soybean production by a whopping 22.6 per cent, enough to compensate the loss in production in groundnut. Sugar surplus continues as production is expected to increase to 383.89 million tonnes, higher by 7 million tonnes than last year output of 376.9 million tonnes. Cotton, however, is estimated to witness a drop in production by 2.4 million bales (one bale is 170 kg) to 32.48 million bales.
The author is a fundamental analyst with Karvy Comtrade Limited