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Mustard crop seen unchanged this year, says research body

Tuesday, Feb 11 2020


India's mustard crop in 2019-20 (Jul-Jun) is expected to remain unchanged on year at 9.34 mln tn as benefits from favourable weather in some parts are likely to be offset by diseases and hailstorms in others, said Pramod Kumar Rai, director, Indian Council of Agricultural Research – Directorate of Rapeseed-Mustard Research."It (production) shall remain at last year's level of 9.34 mln tn. Weather in most parts of the country is good which may lift production but hailstorm in early January in some parts of northern and western parts of India would offset the rise," Rai said in an interview to Cogencis.


White rust and stem rot diseases were reported in some key growing regions in Rajasthan, western Uttar Pradesh and southern Haryana, and this is also seen weighing on production, he said.As of now, the late sown crop is in the pod-formation to grain-filling stage. If not treated immediately, the stem rot disease may result in the rotting of the entire root system, leaving the plant wilted. The white rust disease leads to deformation of flowers and, subsequently, to sterility.There have also been reports of locust attacks in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, though no major damage to the standing crop has been reported, he said. Rajasthan accounts for more than half the country's total mustard output.


For 2019-20, Rai pegs the area under the oilseed at around 6.2 mln ha, largely unchanged from his estimate for the previous year. According to farm ministry data, however, the acreage is seen steady at 6.9 mln ha."No major shift in (area) in Rajasthan is possible from mustard to other crops because of soil salinity where wheat doesn't fit well in comparison with mustard," Rai said. Acreage in Rajasthan is expected to remain stable on year at around 2.7 mln ha, he said. For the previous few years, the acreage was around 3.0 mln ha, he said.Though farmers in major mustard growing regions in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have shifted to wheat, the area under the oilseed has risen in eastern parts of the country by a similar extent, Rai said.  Wheat acreage has risen to a record high of 33.6 mln ha in 2019-20, farm ministry data showed.


Last year, the average yield for mustard was 1.49 tn per ha and it is expected to remain the same in 2019-20. In some areas in eastern Uttar Pradesh, yield is seen rising to a record 1.9 tn per ha this year, he said.The minimum support price also played a crucial role in boosting acreage of the oilseed in non-mustard growing areas, Rai said. The government fixed the minimum support price for the 2019-20 crop at 4,425 rupees per 100 kg, up from 4,200 rupees in 2018-19.With northern, central and western parts of India focusing more on producing food grains, the government is promoting mustard production in eastern parts of the country, Rai said."We are planning to enhance acreage in east and north-east India. We are targetting Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and all seven northeast states as well as eastern Uttar Pradesh," he said. 


The research body is encouraging farmers to bring around 1.4 mln ha of rice fallow area under mustard in Jharkhand in the coming years. The total rice fallow area in the country stands at 14 mln ha and there is a potential to grow mustard on it, Rai said. The government is also developing a value chain so that farmers can get a proper market for mustard."We are working as a consultant with Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project… it is funded by World Bank to increase mustard production in Assam… We have also set up a mustard seed hub in Assam," he said. To boost yield, the number of seed hubs in the country should be increased, as these help in producing high yielding, drought- and pest-resistant varieties of the oilseed.


Of the 35 available seed hubs in the country, eight are of mustard, including one in Assam and another in West Bengal. Twenty more seed hubs, exclusively for mustard, will be set up by the next financial year, he said.

"We asked for 22 seed hubs but the central government approved just 20. The government had earlier planned to develop 150 oilseed hubs. We will try to develop most of the seed hubs in eastern parts of the country," Rai said. Private mustard seed companies are already active in western, northern and central India.



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