As part of its move to encourage farmers towards oilseeds and reduce the country’s import bills, the agriculture ministry had before the beginning of the Rabi sowing season last year announced the highest hike (both in percentage and absolute term) of 8.6% in the MSP of mustard/rapeseed and lowest hike of 2% in case of the most popular winter-sown crop wheat.
“Idea was to give a signal to farmers so that they can opt for crop diversification. Results are now clear as the sown area of wheat declined by 1.7% as of last Friday but the acreage of mustard increased by 23%. More acreage will increase the production of oilseeds during 2021-22 crop season, resulting in less dependence on import during 2022-23,” said an official from the ministry.
Sown area data, released by the ministry on January 7, shows that the acreage of Rabi crops this year (652 lakh hectares) has, so far, already crossed the last year’s corresponding period figure by nearly six lakh hectares. This increase, which may eventually end at record acreage, is mainly due to an increase in sown of oilseeds by over 17.2 lakh hectares — from 81 lakh hectares last year to over 98 lakh hectares this year. Mustard alone has recorded an increase of 16.9 lakh hectares in the oilseeds basket. More than half of this increase is reported from Rajasthan alone.
On the other hand, all other major Rabi crops – wheat, pulses and coarse cereals – reported a decline in acreage, showing how farmers preferred to opt for oilseeds that not only witnessed good hike in MSP but also other basis supports, including seeds, from the government as part of its oilseeds mission to increase production.
If we look at the MSP figures, the highest absolute increase over the previous year had been for mustard/ rapeseeds (Rs 400 quintal each) which was an 8.6% increase. On the other hand, MSP of wheat had reported merely an increase of Rs 40 per quintal (2% increase) which did not even cover the increase in cost (Rs 48 per quintal).
A higher sown area of oilseeds is reported this year from most of the oilseeds producing states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Telangana, Karnataka, Punjab, Assam, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh.
In the case of wheat, even Punjab, known as the wheat bowl of India, reported marginally less acreage this year compared to the corresponding period last year. Other states which reported less acreage to include Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.