Foodgrains production to exceed 250 million tonnes this year: Pawar

Foodgrains production to exceed 250 million tonnes this year: Pawar New Delhi: India's foodgrains production is likely to be more than 250 million tonnes in 2012-13, lower than last year's record but sufficient to meet the domestic demand, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said on Wednesday.

The final estimate of foodgrains production for the last year has been revised upward marginally to a record 259 million tonnes, he said.

"Total foodgrains production in the 2012-13 crop year (July-June) will definitely be above 250 million tonnes and not 255 or 259 million tonnes. 250 million tonnes of output is huge enough to meet the domestic requirement," Pawar told PTI.

The availability of foodgrains would not be a problem but storage issues need to be addressed as rice procurement in the 2012-13 kharif season has risen by 10 percent, he said.

Sharing about progress of ongoing rabi crops sowing, Pawar said though total area under rabi crops like cereals has been less so far, but acreage under pulses is higher. However, the real setback is the drought seen in Maharashtra, parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

On wheat crop, Pawar said: "The crop condition is extremely good. Area is more in Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. We will definitely achieve wheat production close to last year's level."

The country had harvested a bumper wheat of 93.90 million tonnes in 2011-12 crop year (July-June).

On crop situation in Maharashtra, the Minister said, "Marathwada and Pune region in the state is severely affected by drought. I have not seen this type of drought in my life. Drinking water is a problem. I heard drinking water is supplied once in 14 days. So bad is the situation."

Stating that his ministry has revised last year's foodgrains production slightly upward, Pawar said: "I have got the final estimate of last year's production. It is increased marginally to 259 million tonnes from 257.44 million tonnes."

Meanwhile, Pawar told the Parliamentary Consultative Committee meeting that "foodgrains demand is bound to increase rapidly. We have to continue to put more emphasis on enhancing agricultural production and productivity for ensuring food and nutritional security of our nation," an official release said.

In order to meet the projected demand of 280 million tonnes of foodgrains by 2020, the Minister said power supply for farm purpose in the country has to be scaled up to at least 2.0 Kw per hectare by the end of 12th Five year plan (2012-17). "For achieving this, farm mechanisation has to be given priority," he added.

"Though we are witnessing considerable progress in farm mechanisation, its spread across the length and breadth of our country still remains uneven. Our farm power availability is much lower as compared to many other countries such as Korea, Japan and USA," he explained.

To promote farm mechanisation, the Agriculture Ministry has proposed a dedicated sub-mission in the 12th Plan. The mission would focus on testing, demonstration of agri- machinery and giving subsidy on purchase and custom hiring facilities, he added.

Stating that higher foodgrains production need to be realised against the backdrop of limited natural resources, Pawar said "increase in farm production would have to come mainly from enhancement in farm productivity in the existing cultivated area. This productivity increase, in turn, can be realised by increasing land and labour efficiency in agriculture through farm mechanisation."

M S Swaminathan, Sharief-ud-din Sharif, Dhruva Narayana Rangaswamy, M Krishnaswamy, K Sugumar, K P Dhanapalan, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Gobinda Chandra Naskar, Sardar Sher Singh Ghubaya and Kunvarjibhai Bavalia were among Members who attended the meeting.

PTI