New Delhi: Kharif foodgrain output is expected to fall by 7 per cent to 120.27 million tonnes (mt) this year, the biggest drop since the severe drought five years ago. An extended dry spell in the first six weeks of monsoon season, with subsequent floods in some places, has damaged crops.
However, analysts said an adequate grain stock would keep the inflationary price trend at bay. Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh also said the estimate may be revised upwards later.

“Planting of crops is as per average of last five years, and is now 3% lower than previous year. We estimate kharif production to be approximately 120 mt,” Singh said. “This is not final data, though. Production figures always increase by the fourth estimate,” he said. In 2013-14, the country’s kharif output rose to a record 129.24 mt.

Singh said he expected the rabi (winter crop) production to increase with unsown kharif area of over three million hectare to go under oilseeds this season. Rice production is estimated to fall to 88.02 mt, from 91.69 mt in the previous year, although the crop was planted on 36.67 million hectares, about the same as 36.79 million hectares a year ago.

Agriculture secretary Ashish Bahuguna said the delayed onset of monsoon led to late sowing of plants and was bound to have an impact on the crops productivity. The dry spell along with floods in several parts of the country have also impacted productivity, he added.

Grain analyst Tejinder Narang said the estimate would not have any impact on grain prices. “Rabi planting of paddy has yet to take place and final estimates will be similar. Also, country has adequate stock of 21.7 mt rice as on September 1 with Food Corporation of India.”