Monsoon rains save desperate Indian soybean farmers

Soybean and peanut crops were at risk following drought.

by
    A drought had threatened crops, but the rains have finally arrived [Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg]
    A drought had threatened crops, but the rains have finally arrived [Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg]

    Plentiful rain last month during India's critical monsoon season has helped save the country's soybean and peanut crops from disaster.

    The oilseeds, sown during the rainy season that runs from June to September, were at risk of lower yields due to a drought a month ago that wreaked havoc with India's water supply. But much-needed showers came in July, raising expectations that output can return to normal levels.

    "The fear which we had a month ago that the crop is going to be much lower than last year seems to have evaporated now," Atul Chaturvedi, president of Solvent Extractors' Association of India, said in a phone interview. "The oilseed belt has got reasonably good rain."

    Chaturvedi estimates production of monsoon-sown oilseeds will be more or less the same as last year, which was about 21 million tons during 2018-19.

    Dried reservoir India - bloomberg

    About 14.9 million hectares of monsoon-sown oilseeds were planted as of Aug. 2, according the farm ministry. That compares with just 3.4 million hectares on July 5, which was 43% below last year's planting. The monsoon-sown crop makes up more than 60% of the country's total annual output.

    Despite the brighter outlook for oilseed production, the country's cooking oil imports may still increase by 1 million tons in the year starting November due to rising consumption and a decline in domestic stockpiles this year, according to preliminary estimates by G. G. Patel, managing partner of GGN Research, an agricultural research company in India. Higher demand could help trim palm oil stockpiles in top producers Indonesia and Malaysia.

    Showers in July, which account for about a third of the rain received during the monsoon at a crucial period for crop growth, were 4.6% above normal levels across the country, compared with a shortage of 33% in June. Rain in the central region, a major oilseed growing belt, got 8.5% more rain last month versus a shortfall of 31% in June.

    SOURCE: Bloomberg