The effects of El Niño weather patterns could lower Indian soyabean and rapeseed production in 2023/24, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Soyabean and rapeseed production could be reduced to 11.9M tonnes and 11.2M tonnes respectively, the USDA’s 7 September Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) report said.

“The marginally lower estimate compared to MY 2022/23 is due to expectations of less than normal rainfall tied to the El Niño weather pattern for late 2023 and early 2024 in the north and north-western regions of India,” the USDA said in its India: Oilseeds and Products Update.

However, the forecast for soyabean planted area was slightly higher than the previous year at 13.1M ha due to favourable domestic prices and return on investment for soyabean planting, the report said.

In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on 8 March between the Indian Oilseeds & Produce Export Promotion Council (IOPEPC) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to increase oilseed production in India could have a potential impact on the sector, the USDA said.

Despite the slightly reduced forecast for rapeseed production in 2023/24 due to expectations of an El Niño weather pattern, favourable weather conditions in Rajasthan – India’s major rapeseed growing state – led to forecasts of a higher yield for the current marketing year (October 2022-September 2023) of 11.8M tonnes.

Favourable weather conditions also led the USDA to increase its forecast for soyabean production in the 2022/23 marketing year to 12.4M tonnes.