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Reference Date: 27-January-2014


  1. Favourable rains boost wheat plantings for the 2014 Rabi season crop

  2. 2013 Kharif season rice production to remain close to last year’s bumper level

  3. Total cereal exports forecast to decrease in 2013/14 marketing year but remain the second highest on record

  4. Rice and wheat prices increased or remained generally stable

  5. Food security concerns remain for the vulnerable groups due to high prices

Favourable rains boost wheat plantings for the 2014 Rabi season crop

Planting of the 2014 Rabi season cereal crops, mainly wheat and rice, was completed by December. Favourable rains from September to December over much of the country, except north-western areas which experienced below-average rains, improved soil moisture allowing farmers to start planting early. However, a period of generally dry weather has prevailed since the start of January.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) the cumulative rainfall for the country as a whole during the first two weeks of January has been 40 percent below the Long Period Average (LPA). However, most of the wheat and paddy is irrigated in this season and the abundant rains in the second part of the monsoon season have helped replenish water reserves for irrigation. According to information from the Ministry of Agriculture by 17 January, 31.4 million hectares were planted under wheat, 6 percent more than in the corresponding time in 2013. Early official target for the 2013/14 Rabi wheat crop is set at about 92.5 million tonnes, similar to last year’s bumper harvest.

2013 Kharif season rice production to remain close to last year’s bumper level

Harvesting of the 2013 Kharif season cereal crops, mainly maize and rice, is nearing completion. The start of the season was characterised by an early arrival and relatively good progression of the southwest monsoon over most of the country, supporting the main Kharif season crops plantings and benefiting early crop development. However, a succession of heavy rains resulted in localized floods from late June to August, particularly in northwest and northeast parts of the country. By contrast, rains were below average during July to August over much of eastern parts, mainly in the important rice producing states such as in Bihar, Haryana and Tamil Nadu. Latest official estimates put the 2013 Kharif rice production close to last year’s bumper level, at 92.3 million tonnes. Despite a 2 percent increase in the area planted, yields were depressed mainly due to below average rains in July and August FAO tentatively forecasts the 2013 aggregate rice production (in paddy terms), including the 2013 Kharif and the ongoing 2013/14 Rabi seasons, at 159 million tonnes (106 million tonnes, milled basis), some 2 percent above the 2012 near-record harvest.

The 2012/13 Rabi (winter) crops, wheat, barley and some paddy were harvested earlier by June 2013. The official estimate puts the 2013 winter wheat production at 92.5 million tonnes, some 3 percent below the 2012 record harvest. The decrease in production is mainly attributed to the below average rains at the start of the growing season over important producing states in the northwest and northeast of the country.

Total cereal exports forecast to decrease in 2013/14 marketing year but remain the second highest on record

With an estimated bumper harvest and large carryover stocks, the country is expected to have an exportable surplus of about 17.6 million tonnes during the 2013/14 marketing year (April/March). Reflecting an estimated reduction in 2013 wheat production compared to the record harvest in 2012 the exports of wheat are forecast at 4.5 million tonnes, some 34 percent below the 2012 record level but the second highest on record. Maize exports are forecast to decrease to 3.8 million tonnes.

India is estimated to remain the world’s major rice exporter in 2013, with shipments of 9.3 million tonnes.

Rice and wheat prices increased or remained generally stable

The retail rice prices in January remained generally stable or increased in some markets of the country despite the 2013 main season Kharif harvest and ample state reserves. Prices were supported by strong export demand, particularly from Western Africa and the Middle East. The Government’s ongoing procurement programme, which started on 1 October 2013 and set to acquire 34.5 million tonnes of the new crop during 2013/14 marketing year continued to underpin prices. Wheat prices remained generally stable in January in most markets of the country, despite favourable prospects for the ongoing 2013/14 Rabi crop, following the recent Government decision to cut the floor price for exports by 13 percent to USD 260 per tonne. The 4 percent increase in the minimum support prices (MSP) for wheat during the 2014/15 marketing year (April/March) also provided support. Overall, cereal prices in January were significantly higher than those a year earlier.

According to the Central Statistics Office the year-on-year inflation was recorded at 9.9 percent in December 2013.

Food security concerns remain for the vulnerable groups due to high prices

The overall food security in India is considered to be satisfactory given the ample supplies of cereals, high level of food stocks and the provision of highly subsidised rice or wheat distribution programme especially for the below-poverty line families under the National Food Security Act. Under the new “Food Security Bill”, approved on 12 September 2013, about 75 percent of rural and 50 percent of urban population will receive highly subsidized food grains with rice at INR 3 per kg, wheat at INR 2 per kg and coarse grains at INR 1 per kg. The entitlement for the poorest of the poor households would continue to be 35 kg of grain per household per month. Poor family children between six months and 14 years of age will be entitled to a free lunch or a take home ration of food. In addition to the free meals, pregnant women and lactating mothers will receive at least INR 6 000. At the moment, high prices of primary commodities and high consumer price inflation are affecting food security of population with low incomes and inadequate access to food. Furthermore, the floods between June and August over the northern parts damaged housing, agricultural infrastructure, water sanitation facilities. The affected population suffered loss of assets including houses, grain stocks and livestock.

Relevant links:
 Food Price Data and Analysis Tool
 Main Food-related Policy Measures (From 1 Jan 2008 to 11 Oct 2011)
From FAO:
 FAO Country Profiles

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