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Rabi sowing signals record harvest, low food prices

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Sunday said food grain production would touch a new high of 263.2 million tonne, up 1.6 per cent from the previous high of 259 million tonne in 2011/12.

The country is likely to achieve a record 263.2 million tonne foodgrain production this year (July 2013-June 2014) following the bumper output of wheat and pulses.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Sunday said food grain production would touch a new high of 263.2 million tonne, up 1.6 per cent from the previous high of 259 million tonne in 2011/12. This will improve supplies of food grains and help to keep food inflation in check. Wheat output is expected to hit a record 100 million tonnes during the year, beating the earlier record of 94.88 million tonne in 2011/12.

Sowing of rabi crops (primarily wheat, pulses and oilseeds) is also progressing well. The total rabi sown area in the week ending February 7 stood at 65.41 million hectare as compared to 61.88 million hectare in the corresponding period last year. Area under all crops barring coarse cereals is higher than last year.

Wheat, the main rabi crop, has been sown on 31.53 million hectare compared to 29.81 million hectare. Pulses, where India still relies on export to meet some of its consumption demand, has been sown on 16.19 million hectare against 15.26 million hectares last year. Area under oilseeds is 9 million hectares against 8.7 million hectares. However, area under coarse cereals is down marginally from 6.19 million hectares to 6.09 million hectares, government data shows.

All these crops will be harvested from April onwards and help in improving supplies in the market. High food price, witnessed primarily during the July-November period of the 2013/14 fiscal year, was a crucial issue in the recent state polls and contributed to the dismal performance of the Congress. In a media interaction early January Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted that his government had not been successful in controlling inflation. "This is primarily because food inflation has increased", he said.

A degree of softening has already begun in commodities such as pulses, onions and maize. Gram, groundnut and maize are selling below the government announced minimum support price. Vegetable prices have also come down from the peak of October-November. In next two months, one can expect an overall softening in food price and low food inflation.