The area under paddy – the largest food grain during the kharif season – was almost 13% lower in the week ended August 5 compared to the same period last year despite a slight resumption of rains in the main producing regions, which raises fears of a drop of 10 to 12 million tonnes in final production.
Sources said that with the end of the paddy planting season in major producing states, any increase in coverage from now on may not yield the desired yields.
With 30% of the normal average area in which paddy is grown each year remaining unsown until early August, there is little chance of a large increase in production, trade sources and commercial.
In the previous kharif season, India produced over 111 million tons of rice.
In several states, farmers have already switched to other short-duration crops such as pulses and coarse grains, abandoning paddy.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), between June 1 and August 8, the southwest monsoon is about 7% above normal (cumulatively across the country).
However, in the major rice producing states of UP (-40%), West Bengal (-25%), Jharkhand (-48%), Bihar (-35%) and Odisha (- 9%), the rains are terribly short.
Together, the five states account for over 40% of India’s total annual rice production, estimated at over 120 million tonnes.
The situation is similar in Uttar Pradesh (0.38 million hectares), Madhya Pradesh (0.37 million hectares), Odisha (0.35 million hectares) and Telangana (0. 28 million hectares).
India, the world’s second largest rice producer and exporter, holds 40% of the world’s rice trade.
It exported 21.2 million tons of rice in 2021-22, including 3.94 million tons of basmati rice.
The weekly data also showed that excluding paddy, the area sown to pulses fell slightly to 11.64 million hectares from 11.94 million hectares.
However, the area under coarse grains, oilseeds, cotton, sugarcane and jute as well as mesta is higher until August 5, 2022, compared to last year. For most crops, planting is almost complete.
The data showed that the area of coarse grains increased to 16.03 million hectares from 15.44 million hectares. The area sown to oilseeds increased to 17.47 million hectares through August 8, from 17.38 million hectares last year.
Cotton plantings increased to 12.12 million hectares from 11.35 million hectares.
The total area under cover for all kharif crops was down to 90.86 million hectares through August 5, from 93.66 million hectares in the same period last year.
Thanks to exceptional production and significant purchases in recent years, the Center has a stock of 47 million tonnes of rice (including the rice equivalent of unmilled paddy) as of 1 July. This goes against the buffer standard of 13.5 million tons.
The Center can use the rice from its own plantations to intervene on the market, in the event of a price increase.
Already, the Center is providing more rice instead of wheat through ration stores. Indeed, its wheat purchases fell sharply to 19 million tons this year against 43 million tons last year.
Armed with high levels of stock in the central pool, the government is providing rice at Rs 3 per kg under the Food Act and free under Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) to around 800 million people, resulting in huge amounts of subsidy.
The PMGKAY is valid until September and it will be interesting to see whether the government extends it or not, given the tight wheat stock situation.