Friday, August 22, 2014

NDA's BREI programme set to increase rice production in north-east

Though the government is yet to release funds for BGREI but it has earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the programme.

Though the government is yet to release funds for BGREI but it has earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the programme.

KOLKATA: The NDA government is taking ahead the Bringing Green Revolution in Eastern India (BGREI) a programme that is aimed at increasing rice production in the eastern part of the country.

Though the government is yet to release funds for BGREI but it has earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the programme, which was conceived by the erstwhile UPA government and is considered to bring second green revolution in the country. But floods in Odisha and eastern Uttar Pradesh may have some impact on eastern India rice production, that contributes more than 50 per cent of the country's rice production.

"The government has already allocated the funds for BGREI. May be it is taking some time to release the funds. We are hoping that funds will come any moment. In the meantime, the government has asked us to carry out a survey on the state of paddy production in the country. Our scientists are visiting different states for field surveys. The government is also keen on usage of hybrid seeds to increase production," said Trilochan Mohapatra, director, Central Rice Research Institute.

Mohapatra is however, a bit worried about paddy production in eastern India.

"Though initially there was a lot of tension as monsoon was delayed but the situation improved gradually in July and August. But now our concern is the flood in Odisha and eastern UP which may damage the standing crop. Right now it is difficult to estimate the impact of damage," he said.

Added Swapan Kumar Dutta, deputy director general, ICAR "Funds from BGREI will start coming shortly. But this year rice production may not touch 106 million tonnes. Some farmers have shifted to millets. So there might be some marginal drop which will have very little impact on country's foodgrain supply ." Eastern states contribute 55 million tonne of rice to the country's total production of 106 million tonne and the bulk of it is produced during the kharif season. Production in the region has increased by 30 per cent in the last three years after the erstwhile UPA government introduced BGREI in the seven eastern states.

The seven eastern states are West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Jharkhand, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The seven states produced an average of 42.6 million tonne of rice before the launch of BGREI but now they contribute 55 million tonne or over half the rice produced in the country .

While floods in Odisha and eastern UP is a matter of worry but Jharkhand has received good rainfall this year after a gap of almost four years.

Weak monsoon may hike rice & vegetables prices

NEW DELHI: The stalling of the monsoon in northern, central and western India may lead to vegetables prices rising further, cut rice production by 10-15 per cent and affect winter-sown crops by drying up the soil unless rains revive quickly. The weather office forecasts a subdued monsoon in the northern and western states at least up to August 28, pointing to pressure on food inflation, which won't come as good news for the government or the central bank.

Rainfall in the past week was 25 per cent below normal, although reservoirs were filled to 65 per cent (88.735 billion cubic metres) of the total capacity of 155.05 billion cubic metres, down from 77 per cent last year, but better than the 10-year average of 62 per cent.

In Punjab and Haryana, monsoon shortfall over the season is 62 per cent, leading to an impact on productivity even though these regions have irrigation facilities. Rainfall was 51 per cent below normal on Thursday. There was no rain at all in Haryana, Punjab and west Rajasthan.

Paddy farmers have been hurt by the poor rainfall, said Krishan Singh Khokhar, vice chancellor, Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University. "There will be a drop in production of at least 10 per cent in the rice crop," he said. Production of cotton and pearl millets may also fall with poor rain in the state.

On Thursday, the Central Water Commission that monitors the 85 important reservoirs of the country on a weekly basis, said storage levels in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tripura, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are lower than the corresponding period last year.


Meanwhile, vegetable prices in most parts of north and west India have seen a slight rise in prices over the past four-five days. "There is slight fluctuation in prices of vegetables by Rs 5-6 a kg in wholesale due to floods and poor rains in north India," said Surinder Kohli, a vegetable trader at Delhi's Azadpur mandi. If it doesn't rain over the next few weeks, it will hit farmers growing seasonal vegetables such as lady finger, bottle gourd, cabbage etc, which will increase retail prices, Kohli said. Most vegetables from bitter gourd, lady finger, brinjal were being quoted at Rs 40 a kg, said Nanku Ram, a vegetable vendor who sells in Sarita Vihar in New Delhi.

Sahab Singh Tomar, who grows paddy on eight acres in Palla village in Delhi, said, "The weather is dry but paddy requires humidity. This will impact grain size and lead to loss in yield by over 15 per cent." The farmer, who also grows lady finger, brinjal and spinach, has already seen a loss in yield of over 50 per cent in his vegetable crops over the past fortnight.

In Punjab, where 95 per cent of the area is irrigated, agriculturists say that with farmers planting more basmati this season, it can lead to a drop in supplies to various government procurement agencies. Also, farmers and agriculturists are concerned about the winter planting of wheat, mustard and maize.

"Weak moisture content will definitely put stress on vegetation-crops, agro forestry and horticulture, but we might not see a huge impact in yields. It is only in winter sowing when ground level water is not recharged, that we may see an impact," said Ramesh Chand, director, National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, New Delhi.