India to witness record foodgrains production in 2022

India achieved record foodgrains production this year but the withdrawal of three agri-reform laws and spike in cooking oil prices cast a shadow on the country’s resilient agriculture sector that is on course for better harvest in 2022 despite pandemic blues.

While soaring production of foodgrains that also helped the government provide free additional rations for COVID-hit poor families for many months together came as a relief, the passing year will be remembered for the long drawn farmers’ protest at Delhi borders against the three laws and subsequent repeal of the legislations.

The Indian agriculture sector, which was among the few segments that remained robust amid the pandemic gales, is expected to register a growth rate of 3.5 per cent in the current financial year ending March 2022.

Foodgrains production hit an all-time high in the 2020-21 crop year that ended in June at 308.65 million tonnes. The production could reach 310 million tonnes in the current crop year.

The government procured huge quantities of wheat, rice, pulses, cotton and oilseeds at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for the benefit of farmers.

During 2020-21, paddy and wheat procurement reached a record 894.18 lakh tonnes and 433.44 lakh tonnes, respectively. Procurement of pulses touched 21.91 lakh tonnes, coarse grains 11.87 lakh tonnes and oilseeds 11 lakh tonnes, as per official data.

The three laws, passed by Parliament in September 2020, were aimed at giving marketing freedom to farmers beyond notified mandis. A framework for contract farming and regulating supply of essential commodities only under extraordinary circumstances were the other main objectives.

Unseasonal rains affected perishable and horticulture produce in some parts of the country. As a result, prices of some commodities like tomatoes came under pressure. Despite bumper production of oilseeds crops, the edible oil prices skyrocketed to unprecedented levels on global cues.

India meets about 60-65 per cent of the domestic demand of edible oils through imports, which jumped to a record Rs 1.17 lakh crore in 2020-21 season, ended October. Prices of mustard oil rose to around Rs 200 per litre and prices of other cooking oils also went up.

2021 also saw huge investments in agritech startups that are working in the area of farm advisory, provisions of inputs and marketing support among others. New technologies like drones are being used in the farm sector. The government has already announced the setting up of a committee to address the key demand of protesting farmer unions — a legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime. Hopefully, an amicable solution on the MSP issue is expected in the New Year.

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