According to recently published report in Amber Waves from the USDA Economic Research Service, yields of major crops in India remain low by global standards, despite government subsidies on inputs, good land availability and plentiful water resources.
Low levels of investment in research, extension and market infrastructure may play a role, the report’s authors, agricultural economists Maurice Landes and Kim Hjort, suggest.
Corn and soybeans, used in animal feed, however, appear to buck the trend. Production of corn is forecast to reach 30.7 million tons in 2024-25 from a recent average of 22.7 million tons. Recent annual growth of 5.3 percent has been fueled by strong demands for domestic feed, exports to neighboring countries, and adoption of hybrid corn varieties, but it is expected to average 2.5 percent for the coming decade. Consumption, however, is forecast to grow at more than 4 percent per year, reducing the amount available for export to just 1.4 million tons.
India is — and is expected to remain — the world’s leading importer of vegetable oils, according to the USDA report. Again, recent production increases of soybeans are forecast to slow from 6.4 percent per year to under 2 percent between now and 2024-25 to reach a total of 13.8 million tons at the end of this period. Estimated consumption almost exactly matches this figure.