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The top 20 oryza districts of India

Which are the districts of India which grow the most rice? Let’s look at the country-level numbers for rice in 2007-08, in 2008-09 and in 2009-10. In 2007-08 the total tonnage reported by the rice growing districts was 90.071 million tons, grown in 553 districts that reported rice harvests, and which grew their rice over 41.306 million hectares (413,000 sq kilometres, a combined area bigger than Paraguay).

In 2008-09 the total tonnage reported by the rice growing districts was 93.148 mt, grown in 508 districts that reported rice harvests, and which grew their rice over 42.759 m ha (427,590 sq km, which is a combined area nearly as large as Iraq). In 2009-10 the total tonnage reported by the rice growing districts was 80.07 mt, grown in 408 districts that reported rice harvests, and which grew their rice over 34.978 m ha (349,780 sq km which is a combined area larger than the Republic of the Congo).

So, looking at the rice totals, there were ups and downs even over three seasons – remember that the monsoon of 2009 was poor and we had drought conditions in many districts. I would have liked to include the data for 2010-11 at district level, but this is still minus West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh and I can’t understand why this is so because the regular ‘advance estimates’ released by the Ministry of Agriculture are supposed to be based on what the states send in as crop growing data every quarter. The three years before 2007-08 should help us understand these trends better and as soon as I collect and clean up data for those years I will add to this post.

Which are the districts that produce the most rice in India, year after year? Based on this three-season set, here’s what we have. In Andhra Pradesh the districts are East Godavari, Guntur, Karimnagar, Krishna, Nalgonda, Nellore and West Godavari. In Chhattisgarh it is Raipur. In Punjab the districts are Firozpur, Ludhiana, Moga, Patiala and Sangrur. In West Bengal the districts are 24 Parganas (South), Bankura, Birbhum, Burdwan, Hooghly, Midnapur (East), Midnapur (West) and Murshidabad.

How much do these top 20 (there are 21 top districts over these three years) by year contribute to the country’s total rice harvest? In 2007-08 they contributed 23.16 mt which was 25.7% of the total rice harvest; in 2008-09 they contributed 24 mt which was again 25.7% of the total; in 2009-10 they contributed 21.93 mt which was 27.3% of the total. You can download the spreadsheet with the top 20 districts for the three years here.

Using a tonnage-based ranking, we have seen how the top 20 rice-growing districts contribute around a quarter of India’s total rice harvest. How different are the top 20 from a group of 20 rice-growing districts further down in the tonnage ranking, for example the 20 districts between 40 and 59 for those years? And is the 40-59 group of districts more diverse (geographically) and have more growing variety (what else do they grow?) than is shown by the dominance of the same districts from West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab in the top 20?

Let’s see what the numbers say. In 2007-08 the 20 districts between ranks 40 and 59 (ranked by tonnage) together harvested 7.20 mt, in 2008-09 it was 7.17 mt and in 2009-10 it was 6.90 mt.

Hence in all three years this set of 20 contributed around a third less rice than the top 20. This is a difference which helps explain the big gap between the tonnage for districts even between those at 80th and 90th percentiles – see the quick comparison chart for how concentrated India’s rice production is in relatively few rice-growing districts.

This cursory look at three years’ data for rice and the districts it is grown in raise several questions. Most important, why do we have complete data (at district level) only until 2009-10 and not after? I find this puzzling since we have advance estimates (released by the Ministry of Agriculture four times a year) for major cereals, pulses and commercial crops even into 2012-13. On what data from the states are these advance estimates then based if we can’t see district figures?

Also, why is there still so much concentration of rice production – 25% to 27% of the total – in only 20 districts? Depending on how many districts report rice harvests in a year, these 20 comprise no more than 4% or 5% of the total rice-growing districts in India. The National Food Security Mission (which concentrates on rice, wheat and pulses) is active in 137 districts specifically for growing rice, so in what way is this concentration of production significant? More on this matter to follow.






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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.