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Foodgrain output may slip below 2011-12 record: Sharad Pawar

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has said foodgrain production in 2012-13 will be lower than last year's record output of 257.44 million tonnes, even though availability would be sufficient to meet domestic demand.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has said foodgrain production in 2012-13 will be lower than last year's record output of 257.44 million tonnes, even though availability would be sufficient to meet domestic demand.

The minister, however, said he does "not expect a major drop in foodgrain production" despite the erratic and delayed monsoon in some parts of the country this year.

Addressing the Economic Editors Conference, Pawar said the government would make efforts to compensate the projected fall in kharif foodgrains output during the ongoing rabi season.

"This year, production will definitely be less than last year. Last year was exceptional year, we had very good production," Pawar said, when asked about the total foodgrains production estimate for 2012-13 crop year (July-June).

Last month, the Agriculture Ministry had projected 10 per cent fall in kharif foodgrains production at 117.18 million tonnes in view of poor rains and drought in more than 360 taluks in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

"Better rainfall in August and September has provided us an opportunity for good rabi (winter) season ahead. Moisture position is comparatively good and that's why we will be able to recoup kharif losses in the rabi season," he said, adding that monsoon deficit has come down to 6 per cent now.

Pawar said that availability of foodgrains stock in the country would not be a problem and in fact, the country has surplus grains for exports as well.

In his opening remarks, Pawar said: "It is definitely a matter of pride for me, as the Agriculture Minister, to be associated with record foodgrain production for consecutive 2 years. We have been successful in exporting 10 million tonnes of rice and 2.5 million tonnes each of wheat and sugar."

As against the buffer requirement of around 21.2 million tonnes, the government has 70 million tonnes of stocks in the central pool, he added.