Good monsoon in 2013 sets ground for record grain production

Dec 29 2013, 16:49 IST
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SummaryIf opposition ruled states also follow suit, it would be a win-win situation for both farmers and consumers.

The agriculture sector bounced back in 2013 after a drought year as the country is set to harvest record foodgrain production of 260 million tonnes because of good monsoons and achieve 5 per cent growth.

Passage of the landmark food security law in Parliament and the decontrol of sugar sector were two major highlights of the year. However, the recommendation of the Supreme Court appointed committee to put a moratorium on the field trials of GM food crops was seen as a big setback.

The year began on a good note with government announcing in Budget a Rs 1.25 lakh crore increase in farm credit target to Rs 7 lakh crore - 22 per cent hike in the Agriculture Ministry's fund allocation for this fiscal. A sum of Rs 500 crore was provided for crop diversification in states like Punjab and Haryana, which are facing stagnation in crop yield.

Then came a slight disappointment when government released the production data of last year showing decline in foodgrains output because of drought in several states.

Silver lining was that the foodgrains production fell by just 1.5 per cent to 255.36 million tonnes in 2012-13 crop year ended June from previous year's record 259.29 million tonne.

However, good monsoon this year turned things around for the farm sector, providing relief to the government which is banking on farm sector for revival of overall economic growth.

Foodgrains output in Kharif (summer sown) season is higher than last year and the bountiful rains have raised hopes that production of rabi (winter sown) crops too would be better.

"Thanks to very good monsoon, we are likely to have record fruits and vegetables production at 268 million tonne this year (2013-14) higher than foodgrains production of 260 million tonne. For the first time, fruits and veggies output is going to cross grain output," Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) Chairman Ashok Gulati said.

Gulati noted that agriculture growth is likely to be over 5 per cent in 2013-14 from mere 1.9 per cent last year.

Despite estimates of record horticulture production, the prices of vegetables like onions, potatoes and tomatoes went through the roof as excess and prolonged rains damaged crops, delayed harvesting and disrupted supply chain.

Though rates have eased now, skyrocketing prices did have a bearing on consumers as well as the Congress Party which lost assembly elections in four states.

Enthused by sowing data, soil moisture condition and full reservoirs, Agriculture Minister Sharad

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