A file photo of villagers walking down rice fields (Representational image) | Commons
A file photo of villagers walking down rice fields | Representational image | Commons
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New Delhi: Production of kharif or monsoon crops in 2019-20 is set to decline drastically owing to untimely and above-normal monsoon rains last year.

According to the ‘Kharif crop, final production report – 2019-20’ released by the National Bulk Handling Corporation (NBHC) earlier this month, the production of pulses, oilseeds and sugarcane will take a substantial hit. Jowar and cotton will be the only exceptions to beat the trend.

The NBHC is India’s integrated commodity and collateral management company tasked with procurement, handling, storage and upkeep across major business and trade centres. 

Based on various primary and secondary sources, the report estimates kharif production for 2019-20 to fall to 484.8 million metric tonnes (MMT) from 589.6 MMT in 2018-19 — a 17 per cent dip. 


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Dip in rice production

According to the report, the rice harvest for 2019-20 may be 8.21 per cent lower than in 2018-19 — down from 102.1 MMT to 93.7 MMT. The predicted fall for maize is 11.86 per cent, from 19 MMT in 2018-19 to 16.7 MMT in 2019-20.

Speaking about the findings, NBHC deputy vice-president Hanish Kumar Sinha talked about the impact of last year’s erratic monsoon. 

“Kharif season of 2019-20 has been challenging as monsoon was initially late, then erratic and subsequently very heavy and devastating,” he said.

Kharif crops are those sown during the Southwest Monsoon rains.

The monsoon rains in 2019, Sinha pointed out, were 10 per cent higher than average, with the maximum impact felt in central India followed by the southern peninsula, the northwest and the northeast.

The heavy rains led to floods in 13 states between late July and early August 2019, which caused a significant dip in the acreage and production of several kharif crops.

According to their assessment, Sinha said, rice and pulses were worst hit in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Many of these states were among those flooded last year.

“Even though sowing recovered and things started being a bit normal after the flood receded, the entire kharif season was already delayed by about 20 to 25 days,” said Sinha. 

“The real damage for the kharif crop came with post-monsoon rains, which were 32 per cent excess, and the maximum impact was felt in the northwest region (121 per cent excess) and the central India region (64 per cent excess),” he added.


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Major decline seen for pulses and oilseeds

The Indian kitchen staple moong is expected to register the biggest drop in production among pulses.

From 2.5 MMT in 2018-19, the production of moong is expected to drop to 2 MMT in 2019-20, according to NBHC estimates.

The NBHC has also estimated an 18 per cent decline in urad production and 10.47 per cent for tur on account of crop damage in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. 

Oilseeds, however, are expected to bear the brunt of last year’s excess rains. Soybean production is predicted to decline by 32.27 per cent due to continuous rains in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, from 13.7 MMT in 2018-19 to 9.3 MMT in 2019-20. Similarly, the NBHC report has forecast a decline from 0.7 MMT to 0.5 MMT for sesame.

The total harvest of soybean, groundnut, castor seed and Niger seed is expected to decline by 23 per cent in 2019-20, to 16.22 MMT from 21.2 MMT in 2018-19. Peanut production is expected to decline by 9.57 per cent, and sunflower’s by 30.61 per cent.

Sugarcane also expected to take a hit

Production of sugarcane — one of the major cash crops of kharif season — will decline by 21.98 per cent, according to the NBHC report. It is expected to decline from 400 MMT to 312 MMT.

The findings of the NBHC are contrary to the first advance estimates for the 2019-20 kharif season that were released by the Ministry of Agriculture on 23 September 2019.

According to the advance estimates, total foodgrain production in the country was estimated at 140.57 million tonnes [tonnes and metric tonnes is the same thing] for this kharif season, higher by over 8 million tonnes than the average of the previous five years (2013-14 to 2017-18).


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