The Indian government plans to import 400,000 tonnes of tur dal and 1 million tonnes of urad dal from Myanmar in February 2024 to address the high prices of these pulses in the domestic market. This decision aims to ensure ample availability and control the surge in prices, particularly as wheat, rice, and onion prices remain elevated. The move comes as the government anticipates lower pulse production compared to the previous year. In response to escalating prices, the government had previously imposed stock limits on tur and urad dal to prevent hoarding. These measures are part of broader efforts to manage the prices of essential food items, including rice and wheat, with recent amendments to the export policy of Non-Basmati White Rice to prioritize domestic availability over exports.
Global grain prices are anticipated to decrease in 2024, with the exception of rice, owing to India's export restrictions and concerns about El Nino's impact, as reported by the World Bank and BMI, a Fitch Solutions unit. The World Bank predicts a rise in rice prices, offset by declining maize and wheat prices due to improved global grain supplies. BMI foresees tight markets, making prices vulnerable to upward momentum-driven runs amid supply-side issues. Bumper harvests in major producers during the 2023-24 season are expected to turn the market bearish. Lower fuel and fertilizer prices, along with increased edible oils supply, contribute to lower grain prices in 2024. Maize prices are expected to decline further, while rice prices may increase by 6%. Despite remaining higher than pre-Covid levels, average corn, soybean, and wheat prices in 2024 are forecasted to be 30-40% higher than the 2015-2019 average due to narrow inventories. "Other foods" prices are expected to be stable in 2024 and slightly decrease in 2025. El Nino is predicted to impact soft commodities more than grains in 2024. The global biofuel consumption scene, led by the US, Brazil, India, and Indonesia, is undergoing significant transformation, affecting biofuel feedstock prices. Improved food security is anticipated over the next twelve months, driven by lower agricultural prices and real economic growth, according to BMI.
The minimum support price (MSP) scheme for foodgrains witnessed a notable increase from 759.44 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 to 1062.69 lakh tonnes in 2022-23, as reported by Union Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in the Lok Sabha. The corresponding expenditure on foodgrain procurement under MSP values rose from ₹1.06 lakh crore to ₹2.28 lakh crore during the same period, benefiting over 1.6 crore farmers. The National Commission of Farmers, chaired by Prof MS Swaminathan, recommended that MSP should be at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production. The government adhered to this by setting MSP at one-and-a-half times the cost of production since the agricultural year 2018-19. Tomar also addressed the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme, revealing a disbursal of over ₹2.80 lakh crore to 11 crore farmers since February 2019. While ₹38,660 crore has been released in 2023-24, the decline from the previous year is attributed to mandatory land seeding and Aadhaar linking for beneficiary accounts. Tomar clarified that there is no proposal to increase the ₹6,000 annual benefit under the PM-KISAN scheme. In response to another question, Tomar disclosed that 310 districts have been identified as the most vulnerable under the National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA), with efforts to develop 1971 climate-resilient crop varieties since 2014.
Cotton prices in India have hit a two-year low due to sluggish demand resulting from economic challenges in western nations, particularly the US and UK, according to traders. Despite a low cotton crop of around 300 lakh bales, including carryover stock, there is minimal demand for cotton as economic troubles in western countries affect garment demand. Mills are reluctant to purchase even at ₹7,000 a quintal, and the lack of parity for unprocessed cotton (kapas) is a dampener. The drop in cottonseed and ginned cotton prices is attributed to a lack of demand. The Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has bought 2.5 lakh bales at the minimum support level. Arrivals have been delayed due to elections, but with the polls over, they are expected to increase, potentially further pressuring prices. Spinning mills are grappling with declining yarn prices, and the overall challenging situation has led to a 17% drop in yarn output in South India. The hope is that low prices might attract exporters, particularly if they drop to ₹54,500-55,000 a candy. However, current trends are anticipated to persist for a couple of months with no immediate catalyst for increased demand. Despite reduced US cotton production, slack demand is preventing market growth, with Brazil compensating for the lower US crop. Retailers are cautiously managing inventories, and a clearer picture of consumption trends in developed markets is expected in the first quarter of the upcoming calendar year.
In New Delhi on September 13, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a report indicating that India's rice production for the 2023-24 season is expected to drop by 2 million tonnes (mt) due to a dry August. The USDA's forecast estimates India's rice production for the year to be around 132 mt, attributing this reduction to below-average monsoon rains in August, which affected the kharif crop. This production figure encompasses kharif, rabi, and summer crop rice. It's important to note that the official government estimate for the kharif crop in 2023-24 has not yet been disclosed, so the USDA's assessment may not align with the government's figures. Globally, the USDA report predicts a decrease in rice consumption by 200,000 tonnes, totaling approximately 522.7 mt in 2023-24. This decline is primarily due to reduced consumption in countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam, offsetting an increase in consumption in India. The report also highlights a decrease in global rice trade, down to 52.2 mt, with India's reduced exports being a significant factor. The Indian government has imposed restrictions on rice exports, including export taxes on parboiled rice and a minimum export price for basmati. The report anticipates a decrease in world rice ending stocks for 2023-24, primarily attributed to India's reduced production. However, there's optimism as the sowing of kharif crops shows a significant recovery thanks to a revival of monsoon rains in major growing regions.
Nepal government is set to import 20,000 metric tonnes (MT) of sugar from India ahead of the upcoming festivals, including Vijaya Dashami and Deepawali to meet the domestic demand. Although Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has asked the Finance Ministry to give customs waiver for importing 60,000 MT of sugar to meet the local demand, the Finance Ministry has given permission to import only 20,000 MT for the time being. According to Finance Ministry spokesperson, Dhaniram Sharma, the Ministry has given 50 per cent discount on customs duty, which means 15 per cent less from the earlier imposed 30 per cent customs duty. Two companies, Salt Trading Corporation (STC) and Food Management and Trading Company, both would import 10,000 MT sugar each for the upcoming festival season, according to Sharma. However, divisional manager of STC Brajesh Jha said that it had asked the government permission to import 50,000 MT of sugar. According to Jha, Nepal’s domestic demand for sugar stands at 3,00,000 MT and it needs to import a huge quantity of sugar mainly from India. There are 12 sugar factories in Nepal that produce around 1,00,000 MT of sugar. According to an estimate, Nepal imports at least 70 per cent sugar from India. Besides, thousands of tons of sugars are brought through illegal channel without paying customs duty. Sugar is available in the black market in Kathmandu and the prices ranges from Nepali Rupees 100 to 125 per kg, where as it costs around Rs 40 – 50 in India.
Sugar output in Maharashtra, India's top producing state, is likely to fall 14% in the 2023/24 crop year to its lowest in four years due to lower cane yields following the driest August in more than a century, industry and government officials told Reuters on Wednesday. The reduced output could add to food inflation and discourage New Delhi from allowing sugar exports, supporting global prices which are already near their highest in more than a decade. Higher domestic prices will, however, improve margins for producers such as Balrampur Chini, Dwarikesh Sugar , Shree Renuka Sugars and Dalmia Bharat Sugar , helping them make payments on time to farmers. The western state of Maharashtra, which accounts for more than a third of India's sugar output, could produce 9 million metric tons in the 2023/24 season (which begins on Oct. 1), down from 10.5 million tons in 2022/23, said B.B. Thombare, president of the West Indian Sugar Mills Association. "The sugar cane crop didn't receive ample rainfall during the crucial growth phase this year. In almost all districts, the crop's growth is stunted," he said. Maharashtra, which often surprises the global sugar market with wide swings in production, received 59% lower rainfall than normal during August. Maharashtra's sugar commissioner Chandrakant Pulkundwar said he had been informed by representatives from sugar mills during a review meeting that cane yields would be lower this year due to a prolonged dry spell and higher temperatures. The crop badly needs good rainfall in September to limit damage caused by the dry spell, Pulkundwar said India is likely to receive an average amount of rainfall in September, the state-run weather department has forecast, after the driest August in more than a century. Maharashtra's output is crucial to India's ability to export, making the outlook for overseas shipments dismal for the coming season, a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading house said, declining to be named due to his company's policy. In 2021/22 Maharashtra produced a record 13.7 million tons, allowing New Delh to export a record 11.2 million tons. As Maharashtra's output fell to 10.5 million tons in 2022/23, India curtailed exports to 6.1 million tons. New Delhi is expected to ban mills from exporting sugar in the season beginning October, halting shipments for the first time in seven years, three government sources told Reuters last month.
The monsoon of 2023 has finally become active for many districts of Uttar Pradesh, bringing much-needed relief but also causing some unexpected challenges. Over the last weekend, heavy rainfall drenched the region for three consecutive days, signaling a dramatic shift from the dry, drought-like conditions that plagued eastern Uttar Pradesh throughout most of the monsoon season, from June to August. However, the sudden deluge has given rise to a flood-like situation in many cities, leading to waterlogging woes. For paddy farmers like Bhagatram in Patna Khargaura village, Shravasti district, the unexpected rain was a boon. He had been preparing to irrigate his paddy fields with pumps but was spared the expense as nature took care of it. The rain, though late, arrived when paddy was still in its flowering stage, making it a timely blessing for agriculture. In Shravasti district alone, paddy cultivation expanded this year, covering about 78,000 hectares, surpassing the previous year's acreage. However, the story is quite different for vegetable cultivators in Moradabad and Baghpat districts of western UP. The unexpected rain has led to significant losses, with carrot and chili crops being particularly affected. Acknowledging the varied impact of the rainfall, the Uttar Pradesh government has called on the Relief Commissioner to assess the crop damage caused by the rain within a week. Farmers in different regions are cautiously optimistic, realizing that while the rain has brought relief, it could also pose risks if it continues heavily. In the midst of these ups and downs, districts like Gonda have seen a more balanced distribution of rainfall. While maize, sugarcane, and paddy crops have been largely unaffected, certain areas with flooded sugarcane fields have suffered substantial losses. Overall, the meteorological data indicates a mixed bag of conditions. Some districts recorded heavy rainfall between September 10, 2023, and September 12, 2023, while others experienced fluctuations in their rainfall status. Despite the challenges posed by unpredictable weather patterns, Uttar Pradesh's farmers remain resilient in their pursuit of agricultural success.
Coffee Board Secretary and CEO, K G Jagadeesha said the Board proposes to take a two-pronged approach to double the production by 2033. “We are looking at a National Replantation Policy for the traditional States, where coffee plants in about 60 per cent of the areas have crossed the economic age. The yields start declining in arabica plants after 40 years and in robusta after 50 years. If we don’t take up replanting in those states where it has crossed the economic age then our yields are bound to go down. We can increase almost 50 per cent of our production by replanting the old and senile plants,” Jagadeesha said. As part of the proposal, the interest costs on the loans availed by growers to take up replanting in the traditional areas will be absorbed by the government for a period of five years, Jagadeesha said. The Board has sent the proposal to the Commerce Ministry and is awaiting for the government’s approval. Currently, coffee is grown in about 4.72 lakh hectares and the production during 2022-23 stood at 3.60 lakh tonnes. India’s coffee output has more than doubled over the past three decades from around 1.69 lakh tonnes in the early nineties and the Board is targetting doubling the yields over the next decade through improved productivity. Further, Jagadeesha said the proposed area expansion of about two lakh hectares in the non-traditional regions will be carried out by providing subsidies to the growers in collaboration with the respective States. The Centre proposes to share the subsidy burden equally with the States for new area expansion. Odisha’s mission Jagadeesha said Odisha has already announced a mission to bring about 1 lakh ha under coffee by 2030. In Andhra Pradesh about 80,000 hectares would be brought under coffee, while the cultivation can be expanded to about 25,000 hectares in Tamil Nadu and another 50,000-60,000 hecatres in North East. “All these areas if we can bring under coffee, we can improve the output,” he said. India, which exports about two thirds of the coffee produced in the country, is hosting the World Coffee Congress (WCC 2023) in Bengaluru from September 25-28 and the event is expected to showcase the Indian coffees to the global buyers.
Research through a digital twin suggests that new climatic conditions necessitate changing tack with pearl millet cultivation. Millets have gained popularity on menus across the country, but pearl millet, one of the oldest and most beloved millets, may require a different approach due to shifting climate conditions. A team of researchers, commissioned by the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), created a 'digital twin' of pearl millet. This virtual representation allowed them to simulate pearl millet crop status by integrating historical weather data, yields, and other agronomical information. Given the changing weather patterns and evolving agricultural priorities, the study urges a revision of the criteria governing pearl millet cultivation zones established back in 1979. Currently, India's zones are based on rainfall and soil type, with the study suggesting a re-evaluation of the semi-arid 'A zone.' Climate change, with increasing precipitation in the G zone, may impact pearl millet cultivation in some areas. The study identifies three distinct subzones within the A zone—G, AE1, and AE2—covering various states in North and Central India. With climate change as a permanent reality, recalibrating the approach to pearl millet cultivation becomes imperative to optimize production and assist policymakers, researchers, and farmers in making evidence-based decisions, according to the Director General of ICRISAT, Jacqueline Hughes.
The Bt revolution brought about a remarkable threefold increase in India's cotton production, but post-2013-14, a new challenge emerged in the form of the pink bollworm (PBW), negatively impacting cotton crops. However, there's hope in innovative "mating disruption" technologies to control this pest. One such method involves using synthetic pheromones, like Gossyplure, which mimic the chemicals secreted by female PBW moths to attract males. By strategically deploying these pheromones, male moths are drawn away from mating, reducing egg-laying and larval growth on cotton plants. Cotton production plays a crucial role in India's textile industry, providing not only fiber but also food and feed. Cottonseed, comprising a significant portion of the crop, contains oil for cooking and feed cake for livestock. Despite its importance, cotton has faced challenges due to the PBW's resistance to Bt cotton, a genetically modified variety that initially boosted yields. As the PBW evolved resistance, cotton production saw a decline after reaching its peak in 2013-14. To combat the PBW and sustain cotton cultivation, new technologies like mating disruption are being explored. These methods are crucial for the agricultural and textile sectors, as they promise to address the challenges posed by evolving pests while ensuring the continued growth of this vital crop.