Centre estimates onion production 15% lower, pegs potato output 2% down

The Indian Ministry for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has projected a flat production of the country’s horticulture crop. However, this could help the agriculture sector to grow after the foodgrains output was estimated lower last week.

Also read: Farmers roll out ‘Onion Rath Yatra’ to spice up political landscape

The agriculture sector has been witnessing an annual growth of 4.6 per cent over the past six years. However, an estimated drop in onion production could be a concern for prices.

The total production of all horticulture crops including fruits, vegetables, aromatic and medicinal (fruits and herbs), flowers, honey, plantation crops (arecanut, cashewnut, cocoa, coconut) and spices has been pegged at 355.25 million tonnes (mt) in 2023-24 against 355.48 mt (final estimate) in the previous year.

Area up a tad

Releasing the first estimate for this year, the Agriculture Ministry said the area under horticulture crops has seen a marginal rise at 28.77 million hectares (mh) in 2023-24 from 28.44 mh the previous year. Officials said there is a possibility of upward revision in subsequent estimates for production.

Foodgrains production of rabi and kharif seasons (Zaid season excluded) is estimated at 309.35 mt in 2023-24 against 313.55 mt a year ago.

In 2022-23, the horticulture production was estimated at 350.87 mt in the first estimate, 351.92 mt in second estimate and 355.25 mt in the third estimate. “Despite a drop in onion and potato, this year’s total output is at same level as last year’s third advance estimate. If no calamity takes place over the next few months (until June), the production will touch another record,” an official said.

However, the onion production in 2023-24 is estimated to dip by 15.7 per cent to 25.47 mt from 30.21 mt the previous year, the ministry said in a statement. The Government has attributed the overall fall to lower production of by 3.43 mt in Maharashtra, 1 mt in Karnataka, 0.35 mt in Andhra Pradesh and 0.31 mt in Rajasthan. Onion production was 31.69 mt in 2021-22.

Bengal drags potato

The Centre is continuing its policy of restricting exports from India and also selling at  ₹25/kg from buffer stock at select places where prices are high. Though there is a bumper production of late kharif crop, resulting in lower prices for a few weeks in January-February, of late prices have started moving up due to a over 45 per cent drop in production of rabi season crop in Maharashtra, sources said.

Potato production in 2023-24 is expected to be around 58.99 mt down 2 per cent from 60.14 mt in the previous year due to a decline in its output mainly in West Bengal.

As per the data, production of all vegetables is estimated to fall to 209.39 mt from 212.55 mt and output of fruits is expected to touch 112.08 mt in 2023-24 from 110.21 mt in 2022-23 (Final Estimates). The Government expects increase in the production of cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkin, tapioca, tomato, and some other vegetables. Similarly, rise in output of banana, mandarin and mango is also expected in 2023-24.

The Ministry said that tomato production is expected to rise to 20.82 mt from 20.43 mt last year.

Also read: India permitting onion exports to Bahrain, Mauritius upsetting major international markets, say traders

The Ministry has released the first advance estimates of 2023-24 three months in advance as normally it used to be announced around June. It said the estimates have been arrived of various horticultural crops on the basis of information received from states and other government agencies.

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