Foodgrain production may marginally increase despite drought in 2015-16

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NEW DELHI: India's foodgrain production in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) is estimated to be 253.16 million tonnes (MT) - marginally higher than the overall production in the year 2014-15.

Second advance estimate of the country's foodgrain production in 2015-16, which is to be released by the agriculture ministry this week, signals that the better output of Rabi (winter) crops - mainly wheat and pulses - may offset the deficit recorded in Kharif (summer) crops.

The estimate notes that the foodgrain production during 2015-16 will be 253.16 MT as compared to 252.02 MT in 2014-15. Slightly better output is attributed to contingency measures and promotions of better crop varieties during the Rabi season.

After facing a setback during the first fortnight of January due to warmer winter, the Rabi sowing could later pick up with return of chill during the second fortnight of last month.

Although the final production figures for 2015-16 may vary by the time government will come out with its fourth estimate, the change may not be drastic if the current Rabi season is not hit by natural calamities like unseasonal rains and hailstorms.

The government releases four advance estimates followed by a final estimate of foodgrain production for every crop year. Fourth advance production estimates are released ever year in July-August as by this time fully firmed up data on area as well as yield of Kharif crops and Rabi crops are available with the states. As such, fourth advance estimates are considered to be almost as good as 'Final Estimates'. Last years, farmers in many northern states lost their standing Rabi crops - mainly wheat and mustard - due to unseasonal rains and hailstorm between February-April, 2015. It had impacted the overall foodgrain production in 2014-15 which was much lower than the record production of 265.04 MT in the 2013-14.

Unlike the normal Monsoon year of 2013-14, both 2014-15 and 2015-16 faced drought. The situation was severe during 2015-16 which recorded rainfall deficit of 14% as compared to 12% during 2014-15.