Kharif crop yields, including rice, may drop due to uneven monsoon

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Production of rice, the biggest cereal grown during the kharif season, could drop by 3.79 per cent in the 2023-24 season to 106.31 million tonnes, compared with 110.5 million tonnes, according to the final estimate for 2022-23. This decline is attributed to an uneven monsoon, despite higher than usual acreage.


According to the first advanced estimate of kharif foodgrain production released late last night, production of all major kharif crops this year may decline, with moong, urad, soybean, and sugarcane leading the pack.


The decline is due to a prolonged dry spell in August and an uneven monsoon at the start of the season.


Earlier, an assessment by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicated that rice production this kharif season might fall by at least two million tonnes.


The official statement released late last night noted that the first production assessment for 2023-24 (Kharif) largely relies on the average yield of the past three years and may be revised after receiving yield estimates based on actual crop-cutting experiments.


Regarding the drop in rice production, the statement noted that the area under rice is estimated to be higher by around 200,000 hectares over the previous year’s final estimate, and by around 450,000 hectares over the average rice area.


The statement also mentioned that rice production is expected to exceed the average production of the past few years.


A significant decline in kharif production could complicate the government’s efforts to combat food inflation and increase reliance on imports for major items such as edible oils and pulses.


This year’s southwest monsoon has been highly uneven and skewed, primarily due to the adverse impact of El Niño.


To start, the rains arrived late and did not pick up significantly, leading to almost a 9 per cent shortfall in June.


Then, when the rains did pick up, they were abundant, pushing July rains to a surplus of 13 per cent.


However, in August, the rains again took a significant break, leading to a record 36 per cent monsoon deficiency for the month, among the highest in recent history.


Just when the country was preparing for drought-like conditions, it started raining in September.


Statistically, the June to September season ended with a deficit of 5.6 per cent, classifying the 2023 monsoon as ‘below normal,’ the first in over four years.


Rainfall from June 1 to September 30 across India was around 821 millimetres, compared with a normal level of 869 millimetres.


This means that the monsoon season ended with rainfall equivalent to 94 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA).


The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted that rainfall would be around 96 per cent of the LPA, with a model error of plus or minus 4 per cent.


Kharif crops production 2023-24


Crops

2022-23*

2023-24**


Rice

110.5

106.31

-3.79

Maize

23.67

22.48

-5.03

Tur

3.31

3.42

3.32

Moong

1.71

1.4

-18.13

Urad

1.76

1.5

-14.77

Total Foodgrains

155.71

148.56

-4.59

Groundnut

8.56

7.82

-8.64

Soybean

14.98

11.52

-23.10

Sugarcane

490.53

434.79

-11.36

Cotton

33.66

31.65

-5.97

Jute

8.98

9.19

2.34


*As per the final estimate for 2022-23
**As per the first advanced estimate released on October 27, 2023
Source: Ministry of Agriculture

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