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India's Precipitation Deficit Lingers

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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Planting of India's winter or Rabi crop remains behind last year's progress overall, with 59.8 million acres planted as of Nov. 20, down 12.6% from the same period last year. The largest year/year planting lag is seen in rice, down 70% from last year's pace, wheat which is down 26.6%, and oilseeds, down 16%. Planting of pulse crops are 4.3% below year-ago pace.

Maps from the India Meteorological Department continue to indicate the northern regions of the country largely lacking moisture. Between Oct. 1 and Nov. 18, the country's overall precipitation accumulation is 28% below normal, with 10 of 36 regions reporting deficient moisture (20% to 59% below normal, shown as a red color on the chart) and 18 of 36 regions or 50% reporting scanty moisture, or 60% to 99% below normal.

The driest areas of the country, colored red or yellow on the graphic receiving moisture defined as deficient or 20% to 59% below normal to scanty, or 60 to 99% below-normal impacts the country's three top wheat producing states which produced 63.8% of the country's production in 2013/14, according to India's production statistics. It is also affecting the top three states producing rapeseed/mustard in 2013/14, accounting for 70.5% of the country's total production. Looking at pulses, the top three producing regions, which account for 55.4% of the 2013/14 production are affected.

A study released this week by CRISIL, a global analytical and research firm, points to a spike in pulse price inflation every three years in India, with this year's spike in prices higher than the previous two. It's interesting to note that it's a combination of supply and demand-driven factors which are driving this situation, with weak monsoons affecting summer crops and untimely rains affecting last year's winter crop, while on the demand side, higher rural incomes are resulting in a shift in consumption from cereal grains to higher protein diets, leading to higher demand for pulses.

Between 1983/84 and 2014/15, the report indicates the wholesale price inflation of pulses (WPI) in India was 8.9%, which compares to overall WPI of 6.7%. Over the past 10 years from 2004/05 to 2014/15, the overall WPI fell to 6.3% while pulse prices have increased to an average of 9.4%. The WPI for pulses is reported at 53% in October, while averaging 34% this year, as reported by commodityonine.com and thehindubuisinessline.com.

"Such high inflation rate in pulses is undesirable for a county where pulses are the second most important part of diet after cereals and an average Indian spends nearly 5% of its food expenditure on pulses," as reported by the CRISIL study.

Also in the news this week, the weeklytimesnow.com.au reports a mixed bag of statistics. Lentil bids were reported between $1,325 to $1,350/mt in Australian currency this week, the highest prices ever seen. Seeded acres also reached record levels this year. At the same time, Pulse Australia reports that a lack of rainfall during the growing season along with hot temperatures in September and October "torched" lentil yields. Production in the top growing areas of Victoria and South Australia is estimated at 270,000 mt, down from the 590,000 mt expected.

Bulk shipments reported in the Canadian Grain Commission's week 15 data shows 1.1539 mmt of peas moved as of the week ending Nov. 15, up 4.4% from the same date last year. 376,900 mt of bulk lentils have also been exported through licensed facilities, up 44% from year-ago levels.

DTN 360 Poll

This week's poll asks what you think will be the most noticeable shifts in planted acres in the upcoming crop year? You can weigh in with your thoughts on our poll which is found on the lower right of the DTN Home Page.

Cliff Jamieson can be reached at cliff.jamieson@dtn.com

Follow Cliff Jamieson on Twitter @CliffJamieson

(ES)

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