Farmers hope to repeat last year's success in paddy
With monsoon reaching southern India, paddy growers in the region are hoping to harvest another good crop. Also, the recommendation by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) for a 16 per cent rise in minimum support price (MSP) for paddy has added to their joys.
CACP has recommended revising the MSP for paddy to Rs 1,250 per quintal for kharif 2012-13, up from the current Rs 1,080 per quintal now. Additional paddy sowing is likely in Punjab, as cotton growers plan to set aside land for this crop, to tide over the uncertainty in cotton prices.
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However, the total area sown, say officials in the Union agriculture ministry, may remain stagnant at 44 million hectares across India. The area under paddy has remained stagnant for some years. The crop this year is expected to surpass last year’s 102.75 million tonnes (mt), the highest in four years (it was 96 mt in 2010-11). The reasons for the higher projection are hopes of a good monsoon, higher MSP and focus on rise in yields in the eastern states.
Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam and eastern Uttar Pradesh together make up 55 per cent of the sown paddy area in the country. But these states produce an average of 1.7 tonnes per hectare compared to the national average of 2.4 tonnes per hectare. This yield can be easily, if gradually, doubled. Under the 2007-12 Plan period, Rs 1,000 crore was earmarked for raising crop yields in these states, says D Mahapatra, director of the Rice Research Institute, Cuttack.
A Union agriculture ministry official said, “With the growing need for land for urbanisation and industrialisation, supply of fertile land has become inelastic. So, only improvement in agricultural practices can fetch better yield."