Guest Post By Madhav Khandekar – “Record Grain Yield Estimated By Indian PM For 2011/12”

Madhav Khandekar requested posting the following information on Indian agriculture

Record Grain Yield estimated by Indian PM for 2011/12 by Madhav Khandekar

India’s PM Mr Manmohan Singh announced in New Delhi on February 20th that India expects a record grain yield of about 250 Million tonnes for the agricultural year 2011/12. The PM was addressing the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the ICAR-Indian Centre for Agricultural Research, a Government funded research center which has provided innovative techniques in recent years in helping boost agricultural products across the breadth and depth of India.  As the news item further states ‘ Indian agriculturists have also boosted production of fruits, vegetables, milk and cotton  in this year. The production of pulses (beans and related proteins) has also gone up by 18 Million tonnes”

It may be noted that India is primarily a “vegetarian country” with a large majority of people eating mostly vegetarian food, with inclusion of occasional meat products like chicken, lamb/goat or beef. Coastal regions like the State of Kerala in southwest and Bengal in east are “fish-eaters’, mostly ‘fresh-water’ fish in Bengal and salt-water ( sea) fish in Kerala.

The record grain yield may be attributed to well-distributed Monsoon (June-September) rains, two years in a row 2010 and 2011. It may be recalled that the 2009 Monsoon season was a severe drought, primarily due to the El Niño in the equatorial Pacific. The drought was also exacerbated due to other factors like heavier Eurasian winter snow cover and unfavourable positioning of the IOD-Indian Ocean Dipole in the equatorial Indian Ocean (Francis & Gadgil, Current Science, 2009). In contrast, the ongoing La Niña since early 2010 and a favorable positioning of IOD for 2011 has led to well-distributed rains in the last two monsoon seasons. Also increased winter rains in the northwest ( more frequent WD-Western Disturbances, mid-latitude low pressure systems percolating through Himalayan Passes in the west) region of Punjab has helped improved winter wheat yields in recent years.

In summary, well-distributed rains due to prevailing La Niña and favorable IOD has helped produce record grain, fruit and vegetable yield for India for 2011/12. The IPCC science has not adequately analyzed impact of well-distributed (summer and winter) rains on grain fruit and vegetable yield, especially in the monsoonal climate of south Asia.

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