Explained: Is there a crisis in rice?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Is there a crisis in rice?published in Indian Express on 18th July 2022.

What is the News?

The overall crop coverage has risen since last year. But the rice coverage was 17.4% down from last year. However, adequate stocks and cultivation of rice over a wider area suggest there should be no cause for worry.

Statistics about Rice

Rice is India’s largest agricultural crop (accounting for over 40% of the total foodgrain output). India is the world’s biggest exporter (around 40% of the world’s export). ​​India is the second-largest producer of rice in the world, behind only China.

Process of Rice Cultivation: Farmers first sow paddy seeds in nurseries, where they are raised into young plants. These seedlings are then uprooted and replanted 25-35 days later in the main field which is usually 10 times the size of the nursery seed-bed. Nursery sowing generally happens before the monsoon rains. For the first three weeks or so after transplanting, the water depth has to be maintained at 4-5 cm, in order to control weed growth in the early stage of the crop.

Why has rice acreage fallen? 1) Areas such as Uttar Pradesh to West Bengal have had very little rain and 2) Most farmers with limited irrigation facilities have seen even their nurseries drying up.

Is there a crisis in rice ahead?

Not for now. This is because:

Firstly, the India Meteorological Department has forecasted that the current monsoon trough which is active and south of its normal position, is very likely to shift gradually northwards and provide much-needed relief to farmers in the Gangetic plains.

Secondly, rice cultivation takes place across a wider geography, unlike wheat which is grown only in a few states north of the Vindhyas. Also, rice is both a Kharif (monsoon) and rabi (winter-spring) season crop. So, the losses in one area or season can potentially be recouped from the other.

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