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Agricultural Trend Displays Mixed Signals

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
By A Business Reporter

With monsoon slowing down considerably...

The monsoon began on a very good note in June, but has subsequently slowed down considerably. By 13th August 2015, which is approximately two and half months of the four months monsoon period, rainfall was 511.6 mm as against a normal of 562.3 with a deficit of 9%. For the season the IMD has projected a deficit of 12% in their revised estimates in the beginning of August which is unchanged from the stance taken earlier in June.

The deficient regions include the entire belt from Punjab through Bihar and the north eastern states (except Arunachal). The states of Punjab, Haryana, and UP have access to irrigation and would hence be insulated partly from lower rainfall. In peninsular India Telengana, Rayalseema, North Karnataka, Marathwada and Madhya Maharashtra were in deficit. Coastal states of Kerala, Konkan were also in deficit. Says Care Ratings “With just about 1.5 months left, the rainfall has to make up a vast ground in these areas to ensure that the reservoirs get enough rains as well as land for a healthy harvest.”

While overall sowing pattern continues to be higher than last year, relative to June there has been a narrowing of the gap between area sown last year and in 2015. The sub-normal monsoon in July-August has contributed to this factor. Crops in the pulses and coarse cereals segments in particular have seen this narrowing down even though the aggregate levels are impressive.

As regards Inflation across crops, Care is of the view that “Inflation in food products has been benign on the whole with WPI showing a decline of 1.16% in July and CPI displaying positive 2.15%. With the exception of pulses, all other major food categories appear to be fairly subdued. Hence, given the status of the monsoon and area under cultivation, any distortion in production should be absorbed well by the inflation indices”.

On the whole the kharif prospects look satisfactory on the production side which should help keep prices under check. While there could be price spikes in specific crops, headline food inflation should be within range. A good harvest also means that there could be a moderate pick-up in rural demand which can provide some sustenance to the industrial growth witnessed so far which has been just above 3%.

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