INDIA (17 November)
Heavy rain slowed the kharif rice harvest in extreme southern parts of the country, which may lead to some losses. Conditions are reported to be mostly favourable for planting of the rabi rice crop to be harvested in April/May next year. In spite of the possibility of weather anomalies emerging this year due to El Niņo, the country reported a normal monsoon for the tenth year in succession. Official estimates put cumulative rainfall for the period June to September this year at 102 percent of the long term average.
Kharif, winter, rice output is expected to reach 73.1 million tons this year, some 2 percent up on 1996. Most of the increase is expected from northern states of Haryana and Punjab where record production of 8 million tons and 2.5 million tons respectively is anticipated, compared to 7.4 and 2.4 million tons respectively last year. Increase in these states to offset decrease in Andhra Pradesh, which was affected by poor rainfall this year. Aggregate rice production for 1997/98, including kharif and rabi, is forecast at a bumper 81.5 million tons, some 500 000 tons larger than last year . National procurement of rice is projected to be somewhat higher than last year, despite some fall back in supplies from Andra Pradesh. In contrast to previous years, prices continued to remain low in September due to adequate availability of wheat in the open market,.
According to recent estimates, foodgrain stocks, with the Food Corporation of India (FCI), fell to 16.51 million tons at the beginning of September 1997 from 17.82 million tons a month earlier, and 22.24 million tons in the same period last year. Current stocks comprised 7.69 million tons of rice and 8.82 million tons of wheat.