New Delhi: India has not reached the drought situation yet, although it faces the challenge of maintaining record foodgrains production due to weak monsoons this year, Agriculture Minster Sharad Pawar said here on Monday.
"We have not reached the drought situation yet. This year monsoon is playing hide and seek. It is a challenge for our farmers to maintain the same performance as compared to last two years," he said.
South-west monsoon, the lifeline of agriculture had hit Kerala on June 5 but its progress through the country has been delayed, impacting sowing of crops such as paddy and coarse cereals.
"This year, we have a challenge to maintain 4 per cent agriculture growth against the backdrop of weak monsoons," the minister said at the 84th ICAR Foundation Day, where former President A P J Abdul Kalam was also present.
India faces the challenge of sustaining foodgrain output due to deficient monsoon, Pawar added.
The country produced a record 252.56 million tonnes of foodgrain in 2011-12 crop year (July-June), helped by all time high production of wheat and rice.
"For the first time, we have exported 5 million tonnes (MT) of non-basmati rice, 1.5 MT of wheat, 2.5 MT of sugar, 11.5 million bales of cotton due to good production last year," Pawar said.
Last week, the minister had said the government was worried about poor rains in Karnataka and central Maharashtra, which could affect the production of coarse cereals and supply of drinking water.
"As on today (July 11), the country as a whole, the rainfall situation is definitely improving vis-a-vis 10 days back. But the worrisome areas are Karnataka and central Maharashtra," he had said after a meeting with IMD officials.
"There is a cause of concern about coarse cereal (bajra, jowar and maize) production and drinking water supply in these two states," Pawar had said.