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Editorial . . .

              he Union agriculture ministry, in its fourth advance   lakh hectres. Two teams of SOPA, which conducted extensive
              estimates of crop production for 2016-17 has revised   field surveys in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan
        Tdownwards the oilseeds output, compared to the earlier   found that in Madhya Pradesh, the area under soyabean has
        estimates, while projecting higher production of rice, wheat   decreased by 11 per cent and the shift is to other crops like
        and pulses. The revised figure for oilseeds is 32.10 million   Urad, Moong and maize.
        tonnes, against the earlier estimate of 32.52 million tonnes.   The distribution of rains this time has been very much
        The downscaling is on account of estimated lower output of   uneven and according to data provided by the India
        soyabean, which is normally a star performer.           Meteorological Department (IMD) for the major part of
           The ministry has projected the food grains production in   August, region-wise, the rainfall has been ‘normal’ in North-
        2016-17 at a record level of 275.68 million tonnes. The output   west India, East and North-east; ‘below normal’ in Central
        of rice is expected to go up to 110.15 million tonnes, against   India; and, ‘deficient’ in southern peninsula. Some pockets
        the previous estimate of 109.15 million                                     of western and northern India have
        tonnes, and that of wheat at 98.38                                          also reported ‘deficient’ rainfall.
        million tonnes – also a record—against                                      ”Deficient’ rainfall in these places
        the earlier estimate of 97.44 million                                       have adversely impacted the water
        tonnes. Thanks to good performance                                          levels in the country’s 91 key
        by Tur and gram, the pulses output is                                       reservoirs. According the Central
        also expected to go up to 22.95 million                                     Water Commission, these reservoirs
        tonnes. The fourth advance estimates                                        have water levels less than last year’s
        for cotton is encouraging as well.                                          levels as well as the average in the
           In the on-going kharif season, as                                        last ten years during this time of the
        per figures released by the ministry up                                     year.
        to third week of August, the uneven                                            Gujarat faced heavy rains and
        distribution of monsoon rains has                                           floods and among the worst-hit areas
        adversely affected, to some extent, the                                     were Saurashtra and North Gujarat.
        sowing operations, Sowing of both                                           According to the state government’s
        soyabean and groundnut has been                                             assessment, farmers cultivating
        sluggish. But the cotton area has gone                                      groundnut, cotton and paddy have
        up compared to last year.                                                   suffered severe losses.
           Trade sources maintain that                                                 According to SEA estimates, the
        farmers cultivating soyabean and                                            total import of vegetable oils by the
        groundnut are discouraged from                                              end of this Oil Year 2016-17 could
        sowing these crops as they find                                             be over 15 million tonnes, as against
        oilseeds cultivation not remunerative.                                      14.73 million tonnes in 2015-16.
        They say that soyabean is being sold at                                        Industry had been demanding a
        below MSP (minimum support price),                                          hike in import duty on edible oils to
        and prices have fallen much below last year’s levels. The   control the falling prices of oilseeds in the domestic market.
        farmers’ disillusionment is reflecting in the ongoing sowing   Commenting on government’s recent decision to increase the
        process.                                                duty, the Chairman of Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export
           A field survey conducted by Soyabean Processors’     Council said the government’s response has been late, since
        Association of India (SOPA) has estimated that the area   farmers have already lost profit margins considerably and
        under soyabean may decrease this time by 6.4 per cent over   several of them have diverted to other crops.
        last year’s figure. Soyabean acreage last year had crossed 110

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         8                                                  sAArc                            september & october 2017
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