The Indian government has announced plans to procure 1.5M tonnes of rapeseed from farmers in Rajasthan – the country’s biggest producer – in response to prices falling below the minimum support price (MSP), according to a Financial Express report.

Sources said the Rajasthan state co-operative marketing federation (Rajfed) was likely to procure rapeseed at the MSP from 1 April under the agriculture ministry’s oilseeds price support scheme.

“Procurement by government agencies is likely to push mandi [wholesale market] prices above MSP,” an official was quoted as saying in the 14 March report.

Rapeseed was being harvested at the time of the report and the oilseed would start to be delivered to market by the end of March.

While farmers had received prices higher than MSP over the last two years, this year’s record harvest was expected to hit producers hard due to a sharp drop in prices, according to Roop Singh, CEO of Uttan Mustard Producers Company.

India’s agriculture ministry estimated rapeseed production at a record 12.8M tonnes in the 2022/23 crop year (July-June), the report said. The planted area had been reported at a record 9.8M ha, which was 64% higher than the last five years’ average planted area of 6.4M ha.

At the time of the report, Rajasthan (40%), Madhya Pradesh (14%), Uttar Pradesh (9%) and Haryana (7%), had a 70% combined share of the country’s rapeseed production.

According to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), India’s rapeseed and mustard production estimate for the 2022/23 (October-September) marketing year was forecast to drop slightly to 11.4M tonnes, harvested from a record 9.2M ha following a favourable monsoon performance in the state of Rajasthan.

However, early season frost damage combined with higher late season temperatures were expected to impact crop quality, the 10 March Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) report said.