Acreage under rabi crops declined in 2016-17 as compared to 2013-14

Acreage under rabi crops declined in 2016-17 as compared to 2013-14


As opposed to what has been said officially about the positive impact of demonetisation on rabi sowing, acreage actually declined in 2016-17 as compared to a normal year. Let us see why this has been so.

On New Year’s Eve, Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the nation post-demonetisation, among other things, said:

“...Friends in the last few weeks, an impression was sought to be created that the agriculture sector has been destroyed. Farmers themselves have given a fitting reply to those who were doing so. Rabi sowing is up by 6 per cent compared to last year. Fertilizer offtake is up by 9 per cent. During this period, the Government has taken care to ensure that farmers do not suffer for want of access to seeds, fertilisers and credit. Now, we have taken some more decisions in the interest of farmers...”.

In short, the PM in his speech tried to convince the people of India that demonetisation had no adverse impact on agricultural production, and gross area sown under rabi crops actually soared up in 2016-17 vis-à-vis last agricultural year. This was possible due to a number of steps undertaken by the government in the period spanning demonetisation (i.e. 8 November, 2016 - 30 December, 2016), said the PM.
 
Table 1 Gross sown area under rabi crops
 
Source: Economic Survey 2015-16 Statistical Appendix, please click here to access

* Press release: Rabi Crops Sowing Crosses 628 Lakh Hectare, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture, 20 January, 2017, please click here to access

Note: Data on gross sown area under various rabi crops from 2012-13 to 2014-15 has been taken from Economic Survey 2015-16

Based on preliminary reports received from the states by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare as on 20 January, 2017, one could say that the acreage under rabi crops grew from 59.2 million hectares in 2015-16 to 62.8 million hectares in 2016-17 i.e. by 6.1 percent. This is exactly what PM Modi had indicated in his New Year’s Eve speech.

However, if experts are to be believed, then we cannot compare acreage under rabi crops in 2016-17 with that of the previous two years i.e. 2014-15 and 2015-16 during which drought was faced by most Indian states as a result of scanty monsoon rainfall.

Since 2016-17 has been a normal year in terms of monsoon rainfall, so the acreage under rabi crops should ideally be compared with that of a previous normal year -- in this case 2013-14.

The gross sown area under rabi crops declined by almost 2.5 percent between 2013-14 and 2016-17 i.e. from 64.4 million hectares to 62.8 million hectares. From table 1 one gets that although acreage under wheat and pulses increased between 2013-14 and 2016-17, the same under rice, coarse cereals and oilseeds declined.

It is worth noting that for the country as a whole, rainfall during the southwest monsoon season (June-September) as a percentage of long period average (LPA) was 92 percent in 2012, 106 percent in 2013, 88 percent in 2014, 86 percent in 2015 and 97 percent in 2016, as per various reports from the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Chart 1 Foodgrain production in various years
 
Source:  First Advance Estimates of Production of Foodgrains for 2016-17 (as on 22 September, 2016), Agricultural Statistics Division, please click here to access 

The first advance estimates of foodgrain production for 2016-17, which was released on 22 September, 2016 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare shows that the kharif foodgrain production has been higher in 2016-17 (i.e. 135.03 million tonnes) as compared to that of corresponding season of the previous four years (see Chart-1). However, the advance estimates of foodgrain production during rabi for the present year is going to be released in February i.e. after the presentation of Union Budget 2017-18. In such a scenario, it is too early to say that demonetisation did not impact rabi sowing adversely.   
   
As per the Arthapedia, www.arthapedia.in [a portal to explain the concepts used in economic policy domain in India, which is managed by the officers of Indian Economic Service (IES)], in an agricultural year (July-June) the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare releases four advance estimates, followed by the final estimates of production of major agricultural crops in the country.

The Arthapedia website informs us that the first advance estimates are released in September when kharif sowing is generally over, and it covers only kharif crops. The second advance estimates are released in February next year when rabi sowing is over. The second advance estimates covering kharif as well as rabi crops take into account firmed up figures on kharif area coverage along with available data on crop cutting experiments for yield assessment of kharif crops and tentative figures on area coverage of rabi crops. The third advance estimates incorporating revised data on area coverage for rabi crops and better yield estimates of kharif crops are released in April-May. The fourth advance estimates are released in July-August and by this time fully firmed up data on area as well as yield of kharif crops and rabi crops are expected to be available with the states.


References

Press release: Rabi Crops Sowing Crosses 628 Lakh Hectare, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture, 20 January, 2017, please click here to access 

Press release: Rabi Crops Sowing Crosses 582 Lakh Hectare, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture, 30 December, 2016, please click here to access,
 
PM’s address to the nation on the eve of New Year 2017, 31 December, 2016, please click here to access 

Economic Survey 2015-16 Statistical Appendix, please click here to access 

First Advance Estimates of Production of Foodgrains for 2016-17 (as on 22 September, 2016), Agricultural Statistics Division, please click here to access

2016 Southwest Monsoon end of season report, India Meteorological Department, please click here to access

2015 Southwest Monsoon end of season report, India Meteorological Department, please click here to access

2014 Southwest Monsoon end of season report for the state of Uttar Pradesh, India Meteorological Department, please click here to access

2013 Southwest Monsoon end of season report, India Meteorological Department, please click here to access

2012 Southwest Monsoon end of season report, India Meteorological Department, please click here to access

Cropping seasons of India- Kharif & Rabi, Arthapedia, please click here to access 

Right To Food Activists Demand For Safeguards To Reduce Hardships Of Demonetisation, Newsalert from Inclusive Media for Change, 30 December, 2016, please click here to access

Motive behind demonetisation is justifiable but there may be collateral damage, Newsalert from Inclusive Media for Change, 14 November, 2016, please click here to access
 
Record increase in sown area under pulses during kharif 2016-17, shows latest data, Newsalert from Inclusive Media for Change, 13 September, 2016, please click here to access 

The mystery of agricultural growth -Himanshu, Livemint.com, 8 December, 2016, please click here to access 

 
Image Courtesy: Himanshu Joshi



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