'Grain production to be higher this season'

New Delhi, Sep 24 : India's grain production for the season will be 8.75 million tonnes higher than the average of 120.57 million tonnes and is expected to be 129.32 million tonnes, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said Tuesday.

Pawar said this on the basis of the first advance estimates of summer kharif crop production.

Observing that production and productivity of major crops have increased over the years, Pawar drew the attention to the rising demand of foodgrains, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables.

"The food security act seeks to provide foodgrains to about 82 crore people at a cheaper price, ushering in the biggest programme in the world to fight against hunger. While today's production levels are more or less sufficient to meet the current requirements, however, the real challenge is to sustain the same level of growth despite occurrence of drought and floods," he said while addressing National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign 2013.

"We have to accelerate the pace of agricultural growth on sustainable basis to meet the additional requirement of foodgrains for proper implementation of the food security act. I visualise this as a formidable challenge particularly due to the fact that there seems to be no possibility of increase in our net sown area," he said.

On genetically modified (GM) crops, the minister said "wherever feasible and considered advisable by our scientists, based on field trials and otherwise, we should not hesitate in introducing GM crops to reap the benefits of scientific research in this area".

Production of rice is estimated at 92.32 million tonnes, marginally lower as compared to last year's kharif production, but is higher than five years' average production of 85.40 million tonnes, said Pawar.

The estimated production of coarse cereals, is however, higher than average production by 1.50 million tonnes mainly on account of increase in production of maize, he said.

The estimated production of kharif pulses is also higher than the average production by 0.42 million tonnes mainly due to higher than average production of "tur" and "urad", said the minister.

There is a significant improvement in the production of soyabean, and total production of kharif oilseeds, estimated at an all-time record of 23.96 million tonnes is higher than the average production by 4.56 million tonnes.

--IANS (Posted on 24-09-2013)

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