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2020-21 Food Grain Output at Record High

During 2020-21, amidst the havoc caused by the pandemic leading to extended lockdowns and disruptions to economic activity, crop production was one of the few sectors that remained mostly insulated. Rather the sector recorded its best performance ever with most crops recording all-time high output. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare released its third advance estimate for major crops produced during the kharif and rabi season of 2020-21. It estimated foodgrain production at 305.4 million tonnes during 2020-21 compared to 297.5 million tonnes during 2019-20. Output was also revised upwards from the second advance estimate of 303.3 million tonnes. This is the highest-ever foodgrain production in the country.

2020-21 was the fifth successive year of an increase in foodgrain production. From 275.1 million tonnes during 2016-17, foodgrain output reached 305.4 million tonnes during 2020-2021. Foodgrain production increased in both, the kharif and rabi seasons of 2020-21. Kharif production also increased for five years in a row whereas rabi production increased during four of the five years ending 2020-21.

Above-normal monsoon rainfall and return of migrant labourers due to extended lockdown encouraged farmers to increase area sown under rice and other major crops during the kharif season of 2020-21. Almost 5 million hectares of additional area was brought under cultivation during this season. Area cultivated during the rabi season also expanded by around two million hectares compared to that in 2019-20. Since the pandemic left the rural areas largely untouched, sowing and harvesting activities continued unhindered. As a result, production of crops like kharif rice, kharif maize, cotton, rabi rice, wheat, gram and rapeseed & mustard reached an all-time high during this year.

Wheat production is estimated at an all-time high of 108.8 million tonnes during 2020-21. The estimate for wheat production was revised downwards from the second advance estimate of 109.2 million tonnes. Higher temperatures than normal during the harvesting period of March and April is likely to have led to shrivelling of the crop leading to lower yield. Even after this downward revision, production estimate was at an all-time high. Area under wheat has been expanding consistently for the last two years. It is mainly Madhya Pradesh, but also Maharashtra and Gujarat that have brought more area under wheat cultivation during recent years.

Rabi rice production hit a record high of 17.2 million tonnes during 2020-21, as per the third advance estimate. With this, it broke last year’s record estimate of 16.6 million tonnes. Expansion in area sown under rice in Telangana is understood to have contributed to this increase.

Kharif rice production is estimated at a record high of 104.3 million tonnes. A sharp expansion in area sown contributed to the increase in production even as yield declined. A number of states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu witnessed sharp expansion in area under rice cultivation.

Coarse cereals recorded an all-time high output of 49.7 million tonnes during 2020-21. This was led by record production of 35.6 million tonnes during the kharif season. Jowar, bajra and maize are the major coarse cereals produced during the kharif season. Production of maize increased during last kharif season. Sown area increased by a mere 1.1 per cent as price of maize dropped sharply because demand was not expected to improve significantly from the poultry industry. The eight per cent rise in production indicates an increase in yield. Rabi production of coarse cereals stagnated at last year’s level of 14.1 million tonnes.

Pulses production reached an all-time high of 25.6 million tonnes during 2020-21. The increase was driven by a rise in rabi production of pulses led by higher gram production. Rabi pulses recorded the highest-ever production of 17.1 million tonnes during 2020-21. Out of this, gram production was 12.6 million tonnes. This was 13.8 per cent higher than the output during 2019-20. Expansion in area sown as well as increase in yield contributed to the rise in production. During the kharif season, 8.5 million tonnes of pulses were produced. The all-time high production of kharif pulses was recorded during 2016-17 at 9.6 million tonnes.

Production of nine major oilseeds hit a record high of 36.6 million tonnes during 2020-21. Output of kharif and rabi oilseeds reached an all-time high level. Kharif production was estimated at 24.5 million tonnes during 2020-21. This was 10 per cent higher than the 22.2 million tonnes of oilseeds produced during 2019-20. Soyabean and groundnuts are the major oilseeds produced during the kharif season. The third advance estimate pegged soyabean production at 13.4 million tonnes during 2020-21 compared to 11.2 million tonnes produced during the previous year. Madhya Pradesh is the largest state cultivating soyabean followed by Maharashtra. Area sown under soyabean increased during the 2020-21 kharif season. But heavy rains followed by long dry spells had led to pest attack on the standing soyabean crop in large parts of Madhya Pradesh and also some areas of Maharashtra. This is understood to have reduced yield and production. However, the Ministry’s third advance estimate only marginally revised downwards the output to 13.4 million tonnes from 13.7 million tonnes in the second advance estimate.

Production of rabi oilseeds reached 12 million tonnes during 2020-21, an increase of 9.5 per cent compared to the production recorded in the preceding year. Rapeseed & mustard is the largest oilseed produced during the rabi season. Production is estimated at 9.9 million tonnes, the highest ever rapeseed & mustard production.

Cotton production is estimated at 36.5 million bales during 2020-21. Again, this is the highest-ever production of cotton in a year. Higher area under this fibre crop and increase in yield together contributed to this rise. Sugarcane production is estimated at 392.8 million tonnes during 2020-21. This is the second highest level of production.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has set a target of 307.3 million tonnes of foodgrain production during 2021-22. This would be 0.6 per cent higher than the production estimated during 2020-21. Oilseeds production is targeted to rise by 2.5 per cent to 37.5 million tonnes. Cotton and sugarcane production are projected to rise marginally to 37 million bales and 397 million tonnes, respectively, during 2021-22.


Source: Cmei | 13th June, 2021

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