Union Agriculture Ministry has set a higher target for foodgrain production in the forthcoming Rabi season to make up for the crop loss due to deficient monsoon in the ongoing kharif season.
Addressing the National Rabi Conference in New Delhi, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that his ministry has set a target of producing 132.8 million tonnes (mt) of foodgrains during the rabi season beginning October.
Last year (2014-15), India had set a target of 130.75 mt of foodgrain production for the winter crop, but production is estimated to be lower at 126.3 mt, as crops suffered large-scale damage due to unseasonal rain and hailstorm.
Sowing of rabi crops—wheat and pulses—begins in October and the crop is harvested by end of March.
The Minister also said that to curb import of pulses, the government has allocated around 50 percent of fund under NFSM for pulses. He also said that the scope of soil health card is being widened and during the current year over 10 million such cards would be issued. So far the 8.3 million cards have been issued.
Singh said that along with vegetables and fruits his Ministry is also encouraging production of pulses and oilseeds not only for food security but to meet the nutrition requirements also.
According to the first advance estimate released by the farm ministry last week, monsoon-dependent kharif output is likely to drop to 124 mt in 2015, compared to 126.3 mt last year, and 128.7 mt in 2013-14.
So far the monsoon has been deficient by 14 percent, with 317 districts receiving sub-par rainfall, the Minister said, adding that good rains in the last few weeks will help increase soil moisture for the winter crop.
Singh further said that the ministry has restructured several programmes that will enable the farm sector to achieve the target growth rate of 4 percent.
This monsoon, several areas in the country, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, parts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar, have borne the brunt of deficit rains. Crops of cotton, pulses and oilseeds are likely to be hit due to low rainfall.
For Odisha, Singh has directed the Ministry to constitute a Central Team comprising of officers of the Ministry and a representative of ICAR-Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack.
Central Team headed by RP Mallick, Additional Commissioner and State Officials will shortly visit State of Orissa for assessment of drought situation and to suggest remedial measures.
Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State, Petroleum and Natural Gas had requested the Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister to depute a Central Team for taking a firsthand view of the prevailing drought situation in different parts of the State and suggest remedial measures and strategies for combating agrarian and rural distress. Pradhan has highlighted that eight districts namely Dhenkanal, Khurda, Bolangir, Boudh, Bargarh, Subarnapur, Kandhamal and Kenosha have received less than normal rainfall. Additionally, agricultural activities in 103 blocks in 23 districts have been adversely affected.