Officials cite the adverse impact of two cyclones last year and unseasonal rain in February
Tamil Nadu’s food grain production for 2020-21 is not likely to exceed the target of 125 lakh tonnes. Officials of the Agriculture Department attribute the possible under-performance to the adverse impact of Cyclones Nivar and Burevi, which struck the State in November and December last year, and the unseasonal rain in February this year.
According to data compiled after the second estimate, the overall figure is 108.26 lakh tonnes. The third estimate figures, which are likely to come out by September, will include the production achieved through crops that have been planted after the Samba season and are expected to be harvested in the coming months.
For 2019-20, the figure went up from 101.02 lakh tonnes (after the second estimate) to 115.02 lakh tonnes (after the third). If a similar pattern occurs, the tally may touch around 120 lakh tonnes.
But for the natural calamities, the production would have exceeded the target because, in terms of area under paddy, the State had exceeded the target by about 3.75 lakh hectares, the officials said. Compared with the targeted 16.515 lakh hectares, the coverage was 20.256 lakh hectares. This was nearly 1.3 lakh hectares more than what was recorded during 2019-20. As for the total food grains, including millets and pulses, 38.33 lakh hectares were covered as against the target of 37.75 lakh hectares. Again, this was around 1.66 lakh hectares higher than the 2019-20 figure.
Meanwhile, the State stood on top for the second year in succession in micro-irrigation coverage. Under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), it achieved coverage of about 2.14 lakh hectares during 2020-21 with an expenditure of ₹1,314 crore, including the State’s share, said a senior official monitoring the implementation of the scheme aimed at promoting the “more crop per drop” concept.
According to the PMKSY website maintained by the Central Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, the total coverage nationwide last year was around 6.48 lakh hectares, accounting for 68.45% of the target.
Tamil Nadu could cover only about 71% of the target of 3 lakh hectares. The official, while explaining the reason, pointed out that while determining the target for Tamil Nadu, the Union government authorities had fixed a greater area under drip irrigation than what was assigned for sprinkler. Of the assigned area, 70% was earmarked for drip and the rest for sprinkler.
At the end of the year, the State had exceeded the target for sprinkler by about 5,000 hectares (approximately 95,434 hectares). But its performance in drip irrigation was about 56%, with around 1.19 lakh hectares covered.
The adverse impact of COVID-19 was a reason for the under-performance.