India

GIEWS Country Brief: India - Reference Date; 12-March-2021

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FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Production of 2021 wheat crop officially forecast at record level, driven by large plantings

  2. Cereal production in 2020 forecast at record level

  3. Cereal exports in 2020/21 forecast well above five‑year average

  4. Prices of rice and wheat generally stable and close to year‑earlier levels

  5. Food security overall good, but poverty rate increased due to COVID‑19 pandemic

Production of 2021 wheat crop officially forecast at record level

Harvesting of the 2021, mostly irrigated, main "Rabi*" *wheat crop is about to start and early official forecasts indicate a record production of 109.2 million tonnes. The area planted is officially estimated at an all‑time high of 34.6 million hectares. Farmers have been encouraged to increase the planted area by the remunerative producer prices guaranteed by the Government, coupled with optimal soil moisture conditions at planting time and the timely harvest of previously grown summer crops that made land available. Overall, yields are forecast close to average as weather conditions were generally favourable throughout the cropping season and supplies of agricultural inputs, including irrigation water and fertilizer, were adequate.

Cereal production in 2020 forecast at record level

Harvesting of the 2020 main "Kharif" paddy crop was completed in February and the production is estimated at a record level of 159 million tonnes (in paddy terms). The bumper output mostly reflects an increase in plantings driven by official support programmes including the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) and abundant June to September monsoon rains. Harvesting operations of the 2020 secondary "Rabi" paddy has just started and the output is forecast at 25.6 million tonnes (in paddy terms) due to increased plantings and favourable weather conditions and adequate irrigation water supplies. Overall, the 2020 aggregate paddy output is forecast at a record of 184.5 million tonnes.

Harvesting of the 2020 main "Kharif" maize crop was completed last December. The output is officially estimated at a high level, reflecting as record area sown driven by strong demand of the feed industry and above‑average yields due to favourable weather conditions. Harvesting of the 2020 secondary maize crop has just started and will continue until May and production prospects are generally favourable. The 2020 maize output is officially forecast at a record of 30.2 million tonnes. The 2020 wheat production, harvested in June 2020, is estimated at a high level of 107.6 million tonnes.

Overall, the 2020 aggregate cereal output is forecast at a record level of 341.2 million tonnes (rice in paddy terms).

Cereal exports in 2020/21 forecast well above five‑year average

Aggregate cereal exports (mostly rice, wheat and maize) in 2020/21 are forecast at 18.4 million tonnes, 43 percent above the five‑year average and the highest level since 2013/14, reflecting ample availabilities and high demand on the international markets. Rice exports in 2021 (calendar year) are forecast at a record of 16.2 million tonnes. Exports of maize and wheat are forecast at 2 and 1 million tonnes, respectively, almost two and three times more than the last five‑year averages.

Prices of rice and wheat generally stable and close to year‑earlier levels

Domestic prices of rice and wheat have been generally stable since June 2020, reflecting adequate market availabilities from the record harvests. Overall, in February 2021, prices of rice and wheat were close to their year‑earlier levels.

Food security situation overall good, but poverty rate increased due to COVID‑19 pandemic

The overall food security situation is generally good, following several consecutive years of bumper harvests and the delivery of subsidized cereals to the vulnerable households under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), established in 2013. In March 2020, as a response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, the Government intensified the support through a new food security welfare scheme launched with the aim to provide additional 5 kg of rice or wheat and 1 kg of preferred pulses for free to 800 million beneficiaries of the NFSA. Between March 2020 and February 2021, the total amount of food grains distributed to the most vulnerable groups of people under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) scheme is estimated at 27.62 million tonnes. Between the same period, the distribution of food grains under the NFSA is estimated at 45.99 million tonnes.

Poverty rates have increased considerably in 2020 following massive unemployment due to the effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic on the local economy. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the number of poor people increased by 260 million in 2020, almost reverting the gains obtained between 2006 and 2016.