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India could see another bumper crop despite Covid 19

Kharif sowing season approaches

India is expecting yet another year of bumper crop production as the daily number of new Covid 19 cases dropped over the last one week – just ahead of the sowing season for Kharif crops. Besides as the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has also predicted a normal monsoon this year, critical for the agriculture sector, experts said that there is no fear of a possible food shortage in the country.

Agriculture and its allied sectors continue to remain the largest source of livelihoods in India.

“There have been apprehensions with the spread of Covid 19 in the rural areas unlike last year. However, the numbers have started coming down – not just in the urban areas but even in the rural region. While we are still a few weeks away for the sowing season, the drop in Covid cases has come as a big relief,” an agriculture analyst told India Narrative.

“There will be no food shortage,” he said, adding that India has enough food stock which can feed people for more than one and half years. Due to adequate supply of food items, there has been no dent in the supply chain management though most parts of the country are under lockdown. Besides, prices of food items have also remained stable.

With thousands of migrant labourers going back home due to lockdowns in many states, labour force in the agriculture sector will not be a problem.

“Even if a few farmers contract the virus, agricultural activities will continue due to the excess labour,” the analyst pointed out.

Earlier in an interview to the Financial Express, D.V. Prasad, chairman of the public sector Food Corporation of India—that deals with the public food distribution programme — said that “there is absolutely no need to worry as far as the availability of wheat and rice is concerned in any part of the country.”

“There were concerns of a slowdown in sowing of rice grains due to the rise in Covid 19 cases in the rural areas but we have noticed a decline in new cases. We are hopeful of the cases further dropping in the coming weeks before the sowing starts,” Vinod Kaul executive director, All India Rice Exporters’ Association said.

Economists however also said that India must press the pedal on its vaccination drive to ensure that the maximum number of people—living in urban and rural areas—get the jabs on time to ensure that the disruption in economic activities is minimal.

According to India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the Indian food and grocery market is the world’s sixth largest, with retail contributing 70 per cent of the sales.

The agriculture sector, with a growth rate of 3.4 per cent in 2020-21 remained a “sweet spot” in the country’s economy which was otherwise hit by the pandemic.