'Erratic monsoon may hit food production'

. He said the Centre has prepared a contingency plan to face the crisis.

Replying to a debate over budgetary grants for agriculture, Pawar told Lok Sabha that though the monsoon situation has improved compared to the first week of July, there were areas of concern with regard to production of rice and sugarcane. “Situation is alarming in states like Bihar, some pockets of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, MP, parts of AP and TN”, he said. However sowing of oil seeds and coarse cereals has increased, the Minister added.

Giving the latest estimate of farm output, Pawar said foodgrain production during 2008-09 (July-June) was 233.87 million tonne. “After independence, this is the highest-ever production.”

Even during 2008-09, the country was able to produce record foodgrain of 230.78 million tonne, he said, adding that state-run agencies in Punjab and Haryana were able to procure 90 per cent of the output.

Pawar said the government will not shy away from giving additional funds to states to help farmers sow for a second time, because of lack of rainfall.

The Ministry of Agriculture said that as a contingency plan, the government is trying to ensure adequate supply of power and diesel for farmers to help them exploit ground water resources to the maximum.

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