India. Record pulses output may boost kharif harvest to all-time high


This year's harvest is expected on the back on a good southwest monsoon and higher price realisation by farmers

India’s output of pulses during the ongoing kharif season is likely to reach an all-time high of 8.22 million tonnes, almost 50 per cent more than last year. This could also mean a record crop in 2016-17. The Centre’s target is 14.41 mt in the coming rabi (winter) season. If this happens, it would push the total harvest to over 22 mt. The highest till date was 19.25 mt, in 2013-14. Output fell to 16.47 mt in 2015-16 and 17.15 mt in 2014-15, due to drought.

This year’s harvest is expected on the back on a good southwest monsoon and higher price realisation by farmers. Pulses apart, overall farm production in this kharif is expected to be a bumper one.

“Overall, the monsoon has been favourable to farmers this year. We have received good rains and distribution was also good,” Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said. The earlier high for total output was 265.04 mt in the 2013-14 crop year (July-June). This fell in 2014-15 and 2015-16 to 252.02 mt and 253.23 mt, respectively. The government's target for 2016-17 is 270.10 mt, on hope of bountiful rain. It has pegged paddy output at 108.5 mt, wheat at 96.5 mt and pulses at 24.5 mt.

Paddy, oilseeds and coarse cereals have all seen a rise in sowing area in this kharif, said the minister. Kharif sowing started with onset of the southwest monsoon from June and harvesting will begin from next month.

The minister said he was urging states to promote pulses in the rabi season, starting October, too. Unless farmers are assured of getting the announced Minimum Support Price (MSP), they will not be encouraged to plant lentils in rabi. “It is for this reason, the government has started pulses procurement,” he said.

Procurement by government agencies has begun for moong (green gram) in Karnataka and Maharashtra at the MSP. Tur (pigeon pea) and urad (black gram) would also be procured once their arrival begins on a large scale, said Singh. Agriculture Secretary Shobhana K Pattanayak said increase in pulses output in the rabi season would depend on efficient procurement. “Right now, the crop is in very good shape. We are likely to break the record during the current year,” he added.For the rabi, said agriculture commissioner S K Malhotra, states should adopt region-specific crop planning. Barring chickpea, there is sufficient availability of seeds of wheat, jowar (sorghum), urad and moong for rabi sowing, he said.

Centre raps states on its schemes

Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh and secretary Shobhana K Pattanayak both rapped state governments on Thursday for tardy implementation of central schemes.

The secretary pointed to poor progress in implementing three major schemes -- crop insurance, e-agri market and soil health cards. The minister said some states had delayed rollout of the crop insurance scheme, to ensure minimal burden on their exchequer.

On the soil health card scheme, the secretary blamed "lack of interest and lethargic attitude of officers". The Centre wanted to provide a soil health card to 140 million farmers by March 2017. "One and a half years are over and six months are left. Till now, of 453 lakh (45.3 mn) samples collected, we have tested only 400 lakh (40 mn). Another 50 lakh samples are yet to be collected," he said.

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