'Kharif crops output likely to be higher than last year'

Production of kharif crops is likely to be higher in the current year compared with 2014 season, if rains continues to be good, a ratings agency has said.

New Delhi: Production of kharif crops is likely to be higher in the current year compared with 2014 season, if rains continues to be good, a ratings agency has said.

A bad monsoon during 2014-15 financial year pulled down the kharif production to 124.60 million tonnes from 128.69 million tonnes in 2013-14.

Kharif (summer sown) food grains represent close to half of the total food grain output in India and sowing of these crops was 63 percent higher by mid-July than in the same period last year.

Sowing of kharif crops starts in June with the onset of South-West Monsoon and most of the sowing is completed by August.

"Kharif production is likely to cross the financial year 2014-15 level... If the rainfall pattern during the rest of the monsoon period remains similar to that seen during 1 June-15 July 2015," India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) said in a statement.

Sowing of key crops such as rice, pulses and oilseeds is higher than last year's. In case of pulses, sowing is as high as 134 percent. In oilseeds it is 234 percent higher than last year.

Higher sowing is mainly due to 13 percent more than long-period average rainfall in June. Total kharif crop sowing area on July 17 was 56.33 million hectares compared with 34.63 million hectares in the corresponding period last year, Ind-Ra added.

The shortfall in rain during the remaining months of the monsoon period could be mitigated as reservoir water storage till mid-July 2015 was 33 higher than the last 10 year average. It was only 12 percent higher for the same period last year, the agency said.

"This could be a major source of support to the standing kharif crops in the event of a shortfall in rain during the remaining months of the monsoon period," Ind-Ra added.

Global food prices are at a multi-year low. Despite two adverse agricultural shocks (low monsoon affecting kharif production and unseasonal rains affecting rabi production), the prices of food grains have not increased rapidly in the domestic market.

Similarly food inflation though still high, has come down compared with earlier years.

"In the scenario of a deficient rainfall, effective government intervention in the food market by the timely release of food stocks and effective monitoring is crucial. Any supply shortages due to a production shortfall can also be augmented by timely imports," the agency said.

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