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Amid corona fears, govt eyes record grain output

Backed by the forecast of a normal monsoon this year, the Centre on Thursday set India’s foodgrain production target at record 298 million tonnes in 2020-21 which is nearly 2% higher than the estimated output in 2019-20.
The agriculture ministry placed this target before the states during kharif national conference, assuring the stakeholders and farmers that the Centre has been taking all necessary measures to ensure smooth sowing operations during pre-monsoon and monsoon (June-September) period by overcoming the roadblocks created by the spread of Covid-19.

Though many states have already started their sowing operation, the kharif crops (paddy, coarse cereals and pulses) are sown mainly during the monsoon season.

Targets for production of two major crops – paddy (rice) and wheat – in 2020-21 crop year (July-June cycle) are almost at the level of their estimated output in 2019-20. But higher targets for pulses and coarse cereals may see new record of overall output of foodgrain in 2020-21. Besides setting target for production of the foodgrain basket (paddy, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses), the ministry has also set a higher target for oilseeds at nearly 37 million tonnes (MT) in 2020-21 which is 3 MT higher than the estimated output in 2019-20.

Addressing the national meet through video conference, Union agriculture minister, Narendra Singh Tomar, assured that the Centre would “remove any obstacles that the states are facing” during the current difficult situation, signalling that the farmers will be granted all earmarked exemptions for carrying out their sowing and harvest operations during the lockdown period.

The government has advised all fertiliser companies to ensure smooth movement of their products from plants and ports and to provide the details of fertiliser rakes which were held up due to lockdown. They have also been told to explore the possibility of additional storage of the vital soil sutrient in nearby plants.
As far as ongoing harvest of wheat (the major rabi crop) is concerned, over 60% of the sown areas has already been harvested as on Thursday. Farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have, in fact, harvested over 80% of their sown area. The progress is, however, still slow in Punjab and Haryana, while Uttar Pradesh has speeded up harvest activities in the past three-four days.

On procurement, Tomar said it has been decided that all states will ensure procurement at village/block levels as farmers are not allowed to move out of their block due to the lockdown. In addition, all states are taking steps for direct marketing/ purchasing of farm produce, he added.
The main aim of the conference was to discuss various issues and list out steps in consultation with the states about preparedness for kharif cultivation in view of the lockdown.

Source : Times Of India

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