M A I N   N E W S

India expects to reap record harvest
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
India is estimated to harvest an all-time record output of 235.88 million tonne (MT) of foodgrains in the 2010-11 crop year (ending June), courtesy the highest-ever production of wheat and pulses.

Addressing the Kharif Conference here, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said the third advance estimate figures available with him showed an all-time record production of foodgrains of 235.88 MT. “Wheat at 84.27 MT and pulses at 17.29 MT are also the highest recorded production ever,” said Pawar. He indicated that record grain output during the period might prompt the government to lift the ban on the overseas sale of wheat by the world’s second-largest producer to ease pressure on limited storage capacity in its godowns.

All this despite a setback in the production of rice due to drought in some of the major rice-producing areas in the country. The foodgrain production reached record level due to significant improvement in the production of wheat, pulses and coarse cereals.

The latest overall production forecast is in fact 1.6 per cent higher than the previous year’s 232.07 MT. The earlier record of 234.47 MT was achieved in 2008-09. The wheat harvest at 84.27 MT in 2011 is higher than the previous forecast of 81.5 MT and last year's output of 80.8 MT. The production of pulses, estimated at 17.29 MT, is also an all-time record, contributed by steady increase in production of soyabean and a quantum jump of 2.62 MT over its production during 2009-10. The oilseeds’ production, estimated at 30.25 MT, is also the highest-ever.

The earlier record of 80.8 MT of wheat production was achieved in 2009-10 while the previous pulses production record was 14.91 MT during the 2003-04 crop year. Last year, the pulses’ production stood at 14.66 MT.

The record output has raised hopes of further easing of food inflation, which eased to 9.5 per cent (as on March 19) from 10.05 per cent in the preceding week.

As a key member of a GoM headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on food, Pawar has been in favour of export of agricultural products. In the past, he canvassed for export of sugar to ensure fluidity of funds to mills in order to ensure timely payment to cane growers.

Experts say higher grain output forecast will make the decision on wheat export a lot easier for the government.

More foodgrains, however, mean added storage issue, a fact conceded by Pawar who said that the government had to take a serious thought on storage and allocation to states. India’s foodgrain output comprises wheat, rice, pulses and coarse cereals.

Meanwhile, as per the latest estimates, rice production has been revised upward marginally to 94.11 MT in 2010-11 vis-a-vis the second advance estimate. Pulses’ output has been upped by nearly one MT from the second advance estimate to a record 17.29 MT this year.

Coarse cereals’ production, too, has been revised slightly upward to 40.21 MT in 2010-11 from the earlier estimate; last year’s production stood at 33.55 MT.





...but storage a big problem in Punjab
Jangveer Singh/TNS

Chandigarh, April 6
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has conveyed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today that the state was in the throes of a serious crisis with 55 lakh tonnes of wheat from last year’s crop still lying with it. Making out a case for its urgent movement out of the state, he said if this was not done, the state would find it difficult to procure and store the upcoming wheat crop, which could lead to farmer unrest and a serious law and order situation.

The Chief Minister, who was accompanied by Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Adesh Pratap Kairon, also called for augmentation of the foodgrain storage capacity.

Besides, the Centre was also warned that the situation could worsen in the coming days. This was because only 47 per cent of last year’s paddy had been milled till now. Old wheat and paddy stocks had their resultant problems. As 90 per cent of the wheat stock at present in the state is lying in the open, it would be susceptible to deterioration in case it was not moved before the monsoon.

Meanwhile, detailing the problems being faced by the state, a Food and Civil Supplies note submitted to the Centre stated that against a present movement of 8 lakh tonnes per month, the requirement was at least 15 to 18 lakh tonnes per month. It said the state was expected to procure another 110 lakh tonnes from April 15 to May 15.

On increasing storage capacity, the Chief Minister brought it to the notice of the PM that following a survey by the FCI, the state had floated tenders for the construction of covered godowns for a capacity of 71 lakh tonnes. Badal said this capacity was reduced to 51 lakh tonne by the FCI without consulting the state and that finally a capacity generation of only 13 lakh tonne was finalised at the rate of Rs 5 per quintal per month.

The CM also sought Manmohan Singh’s personal intervention to direct the Department of Fertilisers to allocate 2 lakh tonnes of DAP to the state during April and May for indigenous production till the imported material was received.

An official release here said that the PM assured the Chief Minister that he would ask the Ministries of Agriculture and Fertilisers besides the FCI to clear the state government’s proposal for storage of foodgrains and ensure adequate and timely supply of the DAP for the sowing of Kharif crops.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |