With a bumper wheat output expected, the total foodgrains production in the country is estimated to reach an all-time high of 291.95 million tonnes during 2019-20, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (MoAFW) on Tuesday.
The estimated foodgrains production during 2019-20 will be 0.29 per cent higher than the current year’s target of 291.10 million tonnes and 2.36 per cent higher than the production of 285.21 million tonnes in 2018-19.
However, the record wheat output during current Rabi season which is estimated to reach a level of 106.21 million tonnes — 5.68 per cent higher than the target of 100.50 million tonnes, 2.52 percent higher than the wheat production in 2018-19 and 12.26 per cent higher than the average wheat production of 94.61 million tonnes — may pose political and fiscal challenges to the Central Government in the coming months.
Already saddled with high stocks of foodgrains, the bumper harvest is a fiscal and political challenge for the Centre. More grains to procure means higher food subsidy and any reluctance on this front will invite farmer ire.
It may face difficulties in procurement of the cereal due to record foodgrains stocks available in the central pool (75.43 million tonnes including the quantity of rice from un-milled paddy). Two major wheat-producing states Punjab and Madhya Pradesh are ruled by the opposition Congress and any delay in the procurement may become a political issue.
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On the other hand, the Government will have to control the food subsidy bill which is budgeted at Rs 115569.68 crore in 2020-21. The food subsidy for coming fiscal is budgeted lower than the Budget estimate of 2019-20 as the Food Corporation of India (FCI) is set to borrow Rs 1,36,000 crore from the National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) in next financial year.
“As per Second Advance Estimates for 2019-20, total foodgrain production in the country is estimated at record 291.95 million tonnes which is higher by 6.74 million tonnes than the production of foodgrain of 285.21 million tonnes achieved during 2018-19. However, the production during 2019-20 is higher by 26.20 million tonnes than the previous five years’ (2013-14 to 2017-18) average production of foodgrain”, said MoA&FW.
According to the statement, the total production of rice during 2019-20 is estimated at record 117.47 million tonnes which is 1.27 percent higher than the target of 116 million tonnes during current year and 0.85 percent more than 116.48 million production recorded last year. The estimated rice production during current year will be higher by 9.67 million tonnes than the five years’ average production of 107.80 million tonnes.
The statement further said, “Production of Nutri/Coarse Cereals is estimated at 45.24 million tonnes, which is higher by 2.18 million tonnes than the production of 43.06 million tonnes achieved during 2018-19. Further, it is also higher by 2.16 million tonnes than the average production.”
Total Pulses production during 2019-20 is estimated at 23.02 million tonnes which is higher by 2.76 million tonnes than the five years’ average production of 20.26 million tonnes.
“The cumulative rainfall in the country during the monsoon season (June to September, 2019) has been 10% higher than Long Period Average (LPA). Accordingly, the production of most of the crops for the agricultural year 2019-20 has been estimated higher than their normal production”, said the statement.