The acreage of paddy — the main foodgrain grown during the kharif season— continued to remain around 6 per cent lower than the acreage during the same period last year. So far, around 97 per cent of the normal area has been covered. Normal area is the average acreage of the past five years, which, in the case of kharif paddy, is 39.7 million hectares (mha).
Given that much of the sowing has happened outside the ideal window and monsoon continues to play truant over the eastern states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh (UP), and West Bengal, there is uncertainty over the final output, with some analysts expecting a 6-10-million tonne (mt) drop in kharif rice production this year, with others expecting modest impact. India produced over 118 mt of rice in the 2021 kharif season.
Another area of concern could be late surge in the southwest monsoon over central, western, and southern parts of India that could have a bearing on the health of other standing crops. The government, meanwhile, seems confident about rice production in the ongoing harvest season not getting affected by deficient rainfall in key states.
A reason perhaps why it fixed a target last week for procuring 51.8 mt of rice during the forthcoming 2022-23 procurement season that will start from October – a little more than the 50.98 mt already procured during the current season (2021-22). Rahul Bajoria, managing director and chief India economist at Barclays, in a note said that given the persistent rainfall deficiency in the key paddy-sowing states of UP, Bihar, and West Bengal, experts estimate the paddy output this year to be at least 6-10 mt lower than last year’s level.
“In this context, the extension of the free ration scheme to the second half of 2022-23 could have implications on India’s rice exports – and could become a cause for concern for key importing partners,” Bajoria wrote in the note.
For all the kharif crops, the acreage, as on September 2, was around 106.92 mha – just 1.27 per cent lower than last year. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its second-stage forecast released on Thursday said that the southwest monsoon ‘may exit the country this year with a bang’, with most parts likely to get ‘normal’ to ‘above normal’ rainfall in September, except for East and Northeast India – Jharkhand, in particular, will continue to remain parched.
The Met said that due to the re-emergence of active monsoon conditions, the forecast for withdrawal it had issued last week stands updated; a fresh withdrawal date would be issued later.
Releasing the monsoon forecast for September, IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said rainfall in September is expected to be 109 per cent of the long period average (LPA). The LPA for September is 167.9 millimetres.