NEW DELHI India will buy 30 million tonnes of rice from local farmers in the 12 months starting in October, nearly 13 percent more than the previous year, a government statement said.
While August rains will still largely determine the size of summer-sown crops such as rice, the higher purchase target indicates the government is expecting robust production despite a patchy start to the monsoon season.
India, the world's second-biggest rice producer, buys the grain from local farmers at a fixed price to run its mammoth food welfare programme. Guaranteed prices encourage farmers to produce more.
The first month of the June-September season was the driest in five years, raising fears of the first drought since 2009 when the monsoon was the weakest in nearly four decades.
But rains have picked up since then, easing concerns of a severe drought in a country where half of the farmland lacks irrigation systems.
(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; editing by David Clarke)