NEW DELHI: Paddy production in the country during this year’s kharif season could drop by 12% over last year while cotton output is likely to get a 23% boost, private forecasting agency Skymet said in an analysis of the recently-concluded agriculture season, which saw a near-excess monsoon and widespread floods but also good rainfall over many areas. The output of pulses and soybean too is likely to fall by 4.5% and 12%, respectively, according to the outlook released on Monday. Skymet did not give estimates for the entire kharif production. Earlier estimates by agencies such as Crisil have forecast a drop this year over the 2018 kharif output, breaking the rising trend of the past three years. Skymet said paddy production could be down to 90.04 million tonnes this season from last year’s kharif production estimates of 102.13 million tonnes. This is nearly 10% below the government’s first advance estimates released in September, which had pegged paddy production at 100.4 million tonnes. The area under paddy fell by 0.5% this year over the 2018 season, with the biggest drop in acreage reported from Bihar and Karnataka (both 15%). Floods and excess rainfall in the second fortnight of adversely impacted standing crops in West Bengal and Bihar while the crop also came under stress in pockets of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Assam and Punjab, Skymet said. For cotton, the agency said significant increase in prices in the last season, better realisation over competitive crops along with the delayed monsoon onset helped increase acreage by 4% across the country. Skymet estimated the country’s cotton production in the kharif season to be around 35.37 million bales, based on the acreages (12.76 million hectare) reported by the government. This is slightly higher than the government’s advance estimates of 32.27 million bales. Cotton output in the last kharif season was 28.70 million bales. The agencies pegged the production of pulses at 8.2 million tonnes, which is similar to the government’s estimates and 4.5% lower than the 2018 season’s output. Skymet said heavy rainfall over Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra adversely impacted the crop.
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