The Central government has fixed a target to procure 51.8 million tonnes of rice during the forthcoming 2022-23 procurement season that starts in October, slightly more than the 50.98 million tonnes procured during the current season (2021-22).
According to an official statement, in addition to higher procurement of rice, the Centre also plans to lift 1.30 million tonnes of coarse cereals from farmers next year, which is 117.4 per cent higher than the quantity purchased so far in the current year.
Market sources said fixing a higher procurement target than the actual purchase of rice in the next year could also be a signal that the government does not expect a major drop in rice production in the kharif season due to lower acreage in major growing states till now.
Paddy acreage has dropped in comparison to last year in the major growing states of UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh to less than adequate rains in the main monsoon months of July and early August.
However, there has been a slight improvement in the situation since mid August and latest data from the department of agriculture shows that the deficit in area covered under paddy for the week ended August 26 has narrowed down to 5.99 per cent year-on-year, from 8.25 per cent during the previous week due to some pick up rains in West Bengal and Jharkhand.
Deficit vis-à-vis last year has dropped from 15 per cent to six per cent in a span of 14 days. This could ease some concerns of a big drop in final output.
However, a final analysis on the output will be possible only when the harvest starts, because much of the sowing in eastern India is happening after the ideal planting time, market participants said.
According to the latest data from the ministry of agriculture, paddy was sown in around 36.75 million hectares during the week ended August 26, as against 39.09 million hectares during the same period last year.
Till last week, paddy acreage across the country was 34.37 million hectares.
Till July 29, sowing of paddy was completed in just around 58.31 per cent of the normal area which had risen to 92.5 per cent by August 29.
Normal area is the average area covered during the past five years, which is 39.70 million hectares.
The narrowing down of the deficit in paddy acreage could also have an impact on the prices which have risen by 5.5-12 per cent between July 1 and August 15 for some common varieties in select markets of the country.
A strong pick up in paddy acreage might also have an impact on any move to impose export restrictions.
India, the world’s second largest producer and top exporter of rice, commands a 40 per cent share in the global rice trade.