Wheat production this year is expected to decline marginally due to delay in sowings in Punjab and Haryana.
Agricultural experts attribute the delayed wheat sowings to prolonged paddy harvesting this year. Although cool weather condition prevailing at present is conducive for wheat crop, delay in sowing is expected to hit output marginally. “Usually sowing is completed by mid-November. In many key wheat-growing regions, sowing is still on which is expected to impact production marginally,” Indu Sharma, director of Wheat Research, a Karnal-based institute under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) told FE.
Sharma said the output is expected to cross 90 million tonne this year. The country’s wheat production was at a record 93.90 million tonne in 2011-12 crop year (July-June). However, S Ayyappan, director general, ICAR, said, “It looks like early winter and improved soil moisture are likely to boost prospects of wheat crop production to a new record this year”.
However, both agriculture experts agree wheat production in 2012-13 will depend on prevailing temperature during the month of February-March. “We hope to harvest a record output of wheat if temperature do not rise abruptly in February-March," Ayyappan noted.
At present, sowing is underway in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. According to the agriculture ministry data, the wheat acreage is slightly lower at 9.18 million hectare till last week of the rabi season that began in October, against 9.23 million hectare last year.
“There was a slight delay in sowing and the coverage has been lower. But we expect sowing to pick up in the next 15 days," Aayyapan said. Meanwhile, the government is yet to decide on the minimum support price (MSP) for wheat. The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) had recommended the same MSP of R1,285 per quintal to farmers in 2011-12.
In last five years, the wheat procurement by agencies such as Food Corporation of India and state government-owned bodies has increased to close to 39 million tonne this year from only 11 million tonne purchased reported in 2007-8, an increase of 250%. In the same period, the wheat output in the country has increase to 93.9 mt this year from 78.5 mt, a moderate increase of close to 20%.