Kharif crop condition good; production expected to be bumper: Agri Minister

Kharif crops, summer-sown crops, good monsoon, bumper production, foodgrains, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar
With better monsoon rains in August, the sowing area of Kharif crops has improved significantly. Representational image: iStock.

The condition of Kharif (summer-sown) crops is good and the country is likely to have bumper production of foodgrains, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Thursday (September 5).

The condition of Kharif crops is “good” and production will be “good”, the minister said on the sidelines of a global micro-nutrient summit here, jointly organised by International Zinc Association (IZA) and Fertilizer Association of India (FAI).

With better monsoon rains in August, the sowing area of Kharif crops has improved significantly. As of August 30, rice cultivation area stood at 354.84 lakh hectare as against 372.42 lakh hectares in the year-ago period.

Pulses acreage was down at 127.99 lakh hectares against 131.54 lakh hectares, while area under coarse cereals was flat at 171.74 lakh hectares. Oilseeds acreage was marginally lower at 170.78 lakh hectares compared to 171.15 lakh hectares.

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Area under cotton was higher at 124.9 lakh hectares as against 117.66 lakh hectares. Earlier, addressing the event, Tomar asked farmers to check soil health of their agriculture field before sowing operations in order to ensure balanced use of fertilisers.

He expressed concern over excessive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. “We have distributed soil health cards to 12 crore farmers on a priority basis and mission mode. But, farmers should go for soil health check before sowing operations,” he said, adding that there was a need for awareness campaigns to educate farmers.

Although the country has become self-sufficient in foodgrains, Tomar said that there remains a challenge to further increase productivity and production as well as ensure the use of modern technology, increased focus on research, right usage of fertilisers and higher income to farmers.

To address these issues, the minister highlighted that the government has taken various steps, including fixing of MSP (minimum support price) at least 1.5 times of production cost, launch of nearly ₹90,000 crore PM-Kisan programme under which ₹6,000 per year is being provided in three equal installments and a pension scheme for farmers.

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Tomar also spoke about the need of making farmers aware about judicious use of water in agriculture.

FAI Director General Satish Chander demanded that the GST on micro nutrients used for agriculture purposes should be brought down to 5 per cent from 12 per cent. He emphasized on the need to promote fortified fertilisers and said that awareness of farmers about the importance and need of micro-nutrients in improving crop productivity is very limited.

Ajay Kakra, Leader – Food and Agriculture, PwC India said, “Imbalanced use of fertilizers have led to widespread micro nutrient deficiencies in Indian soils. These deficiencies are also affecting human and livestock health. Soil testing and subsequent correction using right products could help restoring the soil health and enhancing farm income”.

Andrew Green, Executive Director, International Zinc Association, US, mentioned that zinc has emerged as the most widespread micro-nutrient deficiency in soils and crops worldwide, resulting in severe yield losses and deterioration in nutritional quality.

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“It is estimated that almost half of the soils in the world are deficient in zinc. India is not an exception. About 37 per cent soil samples analysed for available zinc were found deficient in India,” he added.

Cleiton de Sequeira, Global Market Development Manager Agriculture, Rio Tinto Borates, said, “Boron deficient soils can be found in several regions of the world. India alone accounts for 23 per cent boron deficiency. Indications from developing countries such as India show that micro-nutrient deficiency is impeding the farm income, productivity, and food security.”