Area sown with paddy is down 13 per cent till August 5 of the ongoing kharif season as acreage continues to lag in states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh due to deficient rains. As per the data of the agriculture ministry, the area covered under paddy stood at 274.30 lakh hectare (LH) as on August 5, as against 314.14 LH in the year-ago period.
Less paddy acreage is reported from West Bengal (12.28 LH), Jharkhand (9.34 LH), Bihar (4.85 LH), Chhattisgarh (4.39 LH), Uttar Pradesh (3.82 LH), Madhya Pradesh (3.72 LH), Odisha (3.56 LH) and Telangana (2.89 LH). India is the world’s second largest producer and top exporter of rice. The country commands 40 per cent share in the global trade.
Rice output stood at record 129.66 million tonne in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June). India exported 21.2 million tonne of rice in 2021-22 fiscal year, of which 3.94 million tonne was basmati rice. Apart from paddy, area sown with pulses is down marginally to 116.45 LH from 119.43 LH. However, the acreage of coarse cereals, oilseeds, cotton, sugarcane and jute & mesta is higher. The data compiled by the ministry showed that the acreage of coarse cereals increased to 160.37 LH from 154.40 LH, while oilseeds sowing area was up at 174.79 LH from 173.82 LH.
Cotton sowing increased to 121.12 LH from 113.50 LH, while sugarcane area rose to 54.67 LH from 54.42 LH. Jute and mesta area declined to 6.92 LH from 6.94 LH. Total area under coverage is down at 908.61 LH so far this kharif season as against 936.65 LH in the corresponding period of the previous year. Lower acreage of paddy has raised concern about rice output and prices in the kharif season, which accounts for about about 80 per cent of the total production.
On the back of bumper production and high procurement in the last few years, the Centre is sitting on a stock of 47 million tonne of rice (including rice equivalent of unmilled paddy) as on July 1 as against the buffer norm of 13.5 million tonne. The Centre can use rice from its own godowns to intervene in the market, in case of price rise. Already, the Centre is supplying more rice instead of wheat through ration shops as its procurement of wheat fell sharply to 19 million tonne this year from 43 million tonne last year.
Armed with high levels of stocks in the central pool, the government is providing rice at Rs 3 per kg under the food law and free of cost under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) to around 80 crore people, incurring huge amounts of subsidy. The Centre is providing 5 kg of foodgrains (wheat and rice) per person per month under the National Food Security Law (NFSA) and another 5 kg per person per month under PMGKAY. The PMGKAY is valid till September and it will be interesting to see whether the government further extends it or not, given the tight stock situation in wheat.
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