Gross value added (GVA) in agriculture and allied activities recorded a growth of 3.5 per cent in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023-24 (FY24), driven by a healthy rabi harvest. This is an increase from the 2.5 per cent growth during the same period in the previous financial year (2022-23, or FY23).
However, growth at current prices is expected to remain subdued at around 4.4 per cent in the April-June quarter of FY24, compared to the impressive 13.9 per cent in Q1FY23.
Yet, beyond the Q1 figures, all attention is now focused on 2023-24 kharif season production due to a severe shortfall in August monsoon rains.
“In Q1, the residual rabi crop is typically taken into account. According to government estimates, the production of wheat and other crops has been good last year. However, the more critical factor is the production in the ongoing kharif season, as it will determine the GVA performance for the full year,” said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, Bank of Baroda.
In its latest forecast released on Thursday, the India Meteorological Department provided some hope. It predicted that rains would be normal in September, which, if well-distributed, could revitalise parched fields.
The monsoon in August 2023 amounted to 161.7 millimetres, marking the worst since 1901. The cumulative all-India average rainfall for August was deficient by 36 per cent.
In its last estimates for the rabi production in the 2022-23 crop year (July to June), the government projected wheat production to reach approximately 112.74 million tonnes (mt) due to a substantial increase in acreage and higher yields. However, in February 2023, the Centre had estimated the wheat crop to be around 112.18 mt.
Regarding other main rabi crops, the estimates indicated that chana (gram), the largest pulses crop in the country, yielded 13.54 mt this year, maintaining parity with the previous year.
Mustard production, the primary oilseed grown during the rabi season, was projected to reach a record 12.49 mt, indicating a 4.43 per cent increase from last year.