Kharif foodgrain output may surpass last year's level: Pawar
New Delhi: India's foodgrain production is projected to increase marginally in the kharif (summer) season this year to 129.32 million tonnes after more than half the country received normal monsoon rains.
"Total foodgrain production in the kharif season of the 2013-14 crop year is definitely expected to be higher than last year's level at 129.32 million tonnes," Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told the agency.
Foodgrain output stood at 128.2 million tonnes in last year's kharif season. Sowing in the kharif season starts with the southwest monsoon in June and harvesting from October.
The initial estimate falls short of the target of 130.5 million tonnes of foodgrain production set for the kharif season this year. Rice, pulses, cotton, maize and soyabean are the major kharif crops.
Pawar said production of paddy, the main kharif crop, is projected to exceed last year's level of 92.76 million tonnes as good monsoon rainfall has boosted the acreage and crop prospects. He didn't give an output estimate for paddy.
Except for sugarcane, which was sown in a smaller area, production of other kharif crops looks bright, he said.
Crop-wise production forecast would be provided tomorrow when the first advance estimates of the kharif season for the 2013-14 crop year (July-June) are released, he added.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department, 53 per cent of the country received normal rains during the June to September monsoon season, while one-third of the country got excess rains. The monsoon has withdrawn from the northern and western parts.
A good monsoon is needed for India's economic growth as more than 60 per cent of the population depends on agriculture and allied activities.
The Agriculture Ministry has set a target of 128.5 million tonnes of foodgrain production during the rabi (winter) season, which will start from next month through February 2014.