Foodgrain production dropped by seven per cent in the 2009-10 crop year (July-June) to 218.19 million tonnes from a record 234.47 million tonnes in the previous year because of a severe drought that hit almost half of the country.
“The way sowing operation is undergoing and reports of good monsoon from the states, we are likely to have a bumper crop (production) this year,” Pawar said on the sidelines of a sugar conference here.
Earlier this week, the minister had said that area under kharif crops such as paddy, oilseeds and pulses is expected to be higher this crop year vis-à-vis the preceding two years. The likely bumper production will help contain food inflation, as well as overall inflation, which is currently ruling above 10 per cent.
Pawar said food inflation has started coming down substantially, giving relief to consumers. The falling trend in prices will continue in the coming weeks, he predicted. Asked about the impact of floods on crops in Punjab and Haryana, Pawar said: “I have talked to the states. There is a problem, but in limited areas. I will get a detailed report in a day or two. I don’t think the situation is that serious.”
Punjab and Haryana are the two leading foodgrain producers in the country. The sowing of kharif crops began in June with the onset of the South-West monsoon and will continue till September.
Monsoon rains, the lifeline of Indian agriculture, have already covered the entire country. About 60 per cent of the total area under cultivation is dependent on the monsoon. According to official data, paddy had been sown in 46.46 lakh hectares of area as on July 1 against 45.43 lakh hectares in the year-ago period.
Meanwhile, the area under sugarcane cultivation had gone up to 47.37 lakh hectares as on July 1, 2010, from 41.79 lakh hectares in the previous year.