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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 07-July-2020


  1. Wheat production in 2020 estimated at record level

  2. Cereal production reached record levels in 2019

  3. Rice exports in 2020 forecast to recover

  4. Prices of rice and wheat close to year‑earlier levels

Wheat production in 2020 estimated at record level

Harvesting of the 2020 “Rabi” wheat crop was completed at the end of May and is estimated at a record level of 107.2 million tonnes. The bumper output is largely due to increased plantings, estimated at a record level driven by the remunerative minimum support prices guaranteed by the Government. Weather conditions were generally favourable throughout the cropping season and supplies of agricultural inputs, including irrigation water and fertilizers, were adequate. Overall, yields are forecast above the five‑year average, despite localized damages to standing crops in the main producing northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan due to unseasonably heavy rains and hailstorms in March.

Land preparation and planting of the 2020, mostly rainfed, main “Kharif” paddy crop are underway, supported by favourable weather conditions. According to an official report, as of 12 June 2020, some 6.6 million hectares were planted with rice, 16 percent above the level in the same period of the previous year. Weather forecasts indicate a higher likelihood of average to above‑average rainfall during the 2020 monsoon period, which spans from June to September. The area planted is forecast at an above‑average level.

Land preparation and plantings of the 2020 main “Kharif” maize crop, for harvest from September onwards, are progressing at a fast pace. According to an official report, as of 12 June 2020, about 3.9 million hectares were planted with maize, 7 percent above the level of the same period in 2019. The planted area is forecast at an above‑average level, driven by a sustained demand by the feed industry. Some concerns remain due to the potential impact of Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestations, but precautionary measures undertaken by the Government are expected to reduce crop losses.

Cereal production reached record levels in 2019

The 2019 cropping season finalized in May 2020 with the end of “Rabi” harvests. The aggregate cereal output, including wheat, paddy rice and maize, is estimated at a record level of 324.8 million tonnes.

Rice exports in 2020 forecast to increase

The country is the world’s top rice exporter. In the 2020 calendar year, exports of rice are forecast at 10.8 million tonnes, nearly 10 percent above the reduced level in 2019.

Prices of rice and wheat close to year‑earlier levels

After the slight increases in March and April, prices of rice levelled off in May, as the downward pressure from the record 2019/20 secondary harvest was offset by Government purchases. According to official estimates, as of mid‑June 2020, the Government procured about 72.7 million tonnes of paddy, accounting for about 40 percent of the total annual output. Overall, prices of rice in May 2020 were close to their levels a year earlier.

Retail prices of wheat were stable since the beginning of the year and declined in May on account of improved market availabilities following the start of the 2020 harvest. Overall, wheat prices in May 2020 were close to their year‑earlier levels.

COVID‑19 and measures adopted by the Government

In an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID‑19, in early March 2020, the Government adopted several measures, including travel restrictions, closure of educational and public institutions, bans on mass gatherings and encouraging firms to promote remote work. On 30 May 2020, the Government issued the “Unlock 1” guidelines, for a gradual re‑opening by phases of most activities across the country.

On 26 March 2020, the Government announced a package of measures to support the livelihoods of the most vulnerable households. The main elements of the package are:

  1. In‑kind (food rations and cooking gas) and cash transfers for the low‑income households.

  2. Wage support to low‑wage workers.

In mid‑May 2020, the Government announced new measures meant to:

  1. Support businesses, including micro, small and medium‑sized enterprises, and non‑bank financial companies in the form of various financial measures, such as liquidity injections and tax deduction for workers.

  2. Expand the support for the poor households, especially for migrants and farmers. These include concessional credits to farmers and credit facility for street vendors and the expansion of the provision of food for non‑ration card holders (mainly migrants).

  3. Support the agriculture sector-

  4. Provide work opportunities to low‑wage labourers.

On 1 June 2020, the Government approved the increase of the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for the 2020 “Kharif” crops, currently being planted and to be harvested from September onwards.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.