Crop output likely to be better than 2009 drought year: Govt


Despite deficient monsoon rains, the country's foodgrains output this year is likely to surpass that of the 2009 drought year, the government said on Thursday.

Monsoon rains have been 15 per cent deficient between June 1 and August 1, and four states - Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra - are facing drought-like situation.

"Despite weak monsoon, total foodgrains production is expected to be better than 2009," Minister of State for Agriculture and Parliamentary Affairs Harish Rawat said at the golden jubilee celebration of state-run National Seeds Corporation (NSC).

The total foodgrains output (rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses) is likely to be higher than 2009 level because the number of drought-hit areas is less this time and the centre is better prepared to tackle the drought situation, he said on the sidelines of the event.

There may not be much impact on production of rice - the key kharif crop, he said, adding that the contingency plans prepared for 320 districts are being implemented.

In 2009, the country faced a severe drought in 338 districts, lowering foodgrains (rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses) output by 16 million tonne in 2009-10 crop year (July-June) at 218.11 million tonne.

On relief measures to drought-hit states, Rawat said some mitigation measures have already been announced. The empowered group of ministers (EGoM) on drought, headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, is likely to meet to consider further relief measures after the discussion on the subject in Parliament.

"Parliament may discuss the drought (situation) anytime during the Monsoon Session. We wish to have discussion on this subject and take advise of Parliament that will us to take further relief measures," he said.

The minister further said that Karnataka and Rajasthan have submitted a memorandum seeking central-aid. A central team has been constituted to visit these states for assessing the drought situation and will submit a report soon.

"A committee of secretaries will then analyse the report and based on their recommendations, the central assistance will be declared," he explained.

Last month, the Centre had announced a relief package of about Rs 2,000 crore to states facing drought-like situation, 50 per cent diesel subsidy to farmers to save standing kharif crops and raised subsidy on seeds of various kharif crops.

As per the official data, total area under the Kharif (summer) crops so far is down by nearly 9 per cent at 80.20 million hectare from 87.96 million hectare. The fall in area is steep under coarse cereals and pulses.

India produced record 257.44 million tonne of foodgrains in 2011-12 crop year.

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