New Delhi: Even as monsoon rains are now predicted at 10 percent below normal, raising fears of another hard year for farmers, the latest official estimates suggest that the country`s grain output fell 4.7 percent in the 2014-15 (July to June) season.
"As per the 4th advance estimates for 2014-15, total foodgrain production in the country is estimated at 252.68 million tonnes, which is lower by 12.36 million tonnes than the last year`s record foodgrains production of 265.04 million tonnes," an official statement said.
The agriculture ministry, which released the fresh data, said that during the previous farm year, the Kharif crop for which where sowing starts in June with paddy as the main crop, was hit due to poor monsoon.
Alongside, the India Meteorological Department on Monday released the estimates of India`s monsoon rain and said the deficit has widened to 10 percent, raising fears of a drought after six years.
Already, the unseasonal rains in the February-March this year had hit the Rabi crop hard, notably wheat, for which sowing starts in November and the harvest happens April-May.
India`s agriculture year begins July 1 and ends June 30.
"As such, the 4th advance estimates are considered to be almost as good as final estimates, released the next February, along with the 2nd advance estimates for the subsequent agricultural year," the agriculture ministry said.
The saving grace, thus for, for the current Kharif season is that total sown area is now at 890.82 lakh hectare, against 863.61 lakh hectare in the like period of last year. The sown area for rice is at 300.55 lakh hectares, against 288.15 lakh hectares.
The fate of farmers in India is largely linked to monsoon rains, as it is the main source of water for more than half of the country`s farmland, which lacks irrigation.
As for the 2014-15 agriculture season, the total production of rice was estimated at 104.80 million tonnes -- lower by 1.85 million tonnes than last year`s 106.65 million tonnes. For wheat, it is 88.94 million tonnes, a dip of 6.91 million tonnes over 95.85 million tonnes.
This apart, the total production of coarse cereals has been pegged at 41.75 million tonnes, a fall of 1.54 million tonnes over 2013-14. The output of cereals is expected to plunge by 2.05 million tonnes to 17.20 million tonnes.