India’s Food-Grain Harvest Seen Rising to Record on Monsoon Rain

India, the world’s second-biggest grower of rice and wheat, may produce a record quantity of food grains in the 2013-14 season as planting expands after monsoon rains covered the entire nation early, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said.

The “current year is good for agriculture,” Pawar said today at a meeting of officials and farm scientists in New Delhi to discuss plans for winter-sown crops. “Almost all parts of the country have received very good rainfall. The initial estimates are always conservative.” Food-grain output reached an all-time high of 259.29 million metric tons in 2011-12, according to farm ministry data.

Higher food-grain output would allow the nation to continue exports of wheat and rice and help curb global food costs that the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization says fell in eight of the past 11 months. Agriculture’s share of total Indian exports increased to 13.8 percent in 2012-13 from 10.2 percent in 2008-09, Pawar said.

“India will continue to export the commodities which are in surplus, and it may even export more than the previous year,” Faiyaz Hudani, an associate vice president at Kotak Commodity Services Ltd. in Mumbai, said by phone. “It is not only Indian production which will determine exports, it is also the international market that determines how much quantity can be shipped.”

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Monsoon rainfall in the three months through August was the highest since 1994, data from the India Meteorological Department showed. Rains since June 1 exceeded the average by 5 percent as of yesterday, according to the weather bureau.

Production of monsoon-sown food grains, which also include corn, barley and lentils, is estimated to rise to 129.3 million tons in the year begun July 1, compared with 128.2 million tons in the prior period, Pawar said as he released the first official estimates of 2013-14 crop output. The government updates the estimates every three months.

Production of monsoon-sown rice in India may be 92.3 million tons for 2013-14, Pawar said. Though rice output is seen trailing last year, it will improve in subsequent estimates, according to the minister. A dry September would help the rice crop mature well in India’s north, Pawar said.

The nation may harvest record quantities of cotton, soybeans and corn, he said. Production of monsoon-sown oilseeds may increase to 23.96 million tons from 20.86 million tons a year ago, while soybean output is likely to be 15.68 million tons from 14.67 million tons. The corn harvest is poised to climb to 17.78 million tons, compared with 16.04 million tons a year earlier, while cotton output may come to 35.3 million bales of 170 kilograms (374 pounds) each.

Sugar-cane production is set to rise to 341.77 million tons from 338.96 million tons a year ago even as planting drops, the farm minister said. Farmers sowed cane on 4.87 million hectares (12 million acres) as of Sept. 20, compared with 5 million hectares a year earlier, according to the agriculture ministry.

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