Agro-Food Processing : Technology Vision 2020 Cereals - Current Status & Vision

1. Cereals

The cereals sector occupies a very important place in the Indian economy. The value of cereals output accounted for a little over 41 per cent of the value of production of all crops.

Households spent around 49 per cent of their total consumption expenditure on cereals accounted for about 15 per cent in 1993/94. production of cereals in the country has increased quite rapidly from 69 million tonnes in 1960/61 to 177 million tonnes in 1994/95 as a result of significant incre4ase in yield levels brought about the green revolution.
The production of rice and wheat particularly has registered an annual average growth of more than 3.5 per cent between 1980/81 and 1994/95, which is much higher than the observed rate of growth in population of 2.1 percent during 1981-1991. The rapid growth in cereals production has enabled our country to achieves self-sufficiency in food requirements. In fact, India ha now emerged as an exporter of cereals in the world market.

The present study has concentrated on four important cereals, viz., rice, wheat, maize and sorghum. The following table shows India’s share in world production of these cereals.

Table 1.1 Cereals Production: India and World.

Cereal Year Production (Million Tonnes) India's share (per cent)
India World
Rice 1993/94 78 540 14
Wheat 1993/94 58 550 11
Maize 1993/94 10 526 2
Sorghum 1992/93 13 70 19

India exported nearly 0.8 million tonnes of rice in 1993/94 which is around 5 per cent of the total world exports of 15 million tonnes. India exports mainly basmati rice.

About 5.14 lakh tonnes of basmati rice were exported in 1993/94 while white rice exports were of the order of 2.54 lakh tonnes. The county has the potential to achieve rapid growth in rice export. This is evident from the fact that the buffer stocks of rice was as high as 17.4 million tonnes in January 1995 as compared to the actual minimum stock requirements of 7.7 million tonnes.

The prospects of increasing rice exports can, however, be improved only by adopting better storage, processing and grading facilities. Modernization of storage and processing facilities in respect of rice as well as other cereals would help in reducing storage and processing losses on the one hand and making more efficient use of by products.
It is estimated that nearly 70 per cent of the cereals production is stored and consumed by the producers and the rural population. The remaining 30 per cent, which constitutes the marketable surplus, is stored by traders and other procurement agencies like the Food Corporation of India.

The storage losses are quite high (estimates vary from 0.5 to 10 per cent by weight) because of the nature of packing and in efficient handling. Much of the storage and transportation losses could be reduced through improves, modern storage facilities and bulk transportation of grains.