The prevailing cold wave in North India will help wheat crop, raising the prospects of yet another bumper harvest this year.

The planting of wheat is almost over and the acreage is set to exceed last year’s 290 lakh hectares (lh). Encouraged by a Rs 65 a quintal hike in minimum support price at Rs 1,350, farmers in major wheat growing areas of Punjab, Haryana Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have planted more wheat this year, even though the acreage dropped in Maharashtra over the last year.

“The cold condition is helping wheat crop, which is in the tillering stage. The tillering is good and there are high number of effective tillers, that yield more grains,” said Indu Sharma, Director of the Karnal-based Directorate of Wheat Research.

“If there is no drastic variation in temperatures during the grain formation stages, we could possibly see yet another good harvest,” Sharma said.

Last year, India produced an all-time high of 93.9 million tonnes (mt) of wheat. For the current year, the Government has set a production target of 86 mt. As on January 4, wheat was planted on 286.38 lh, about 2 per cent more than the corresponding last year.

Storage issue

However, a good wheat harvest may create further storage issues for the Government, which is sitting on a huge stockpile. Foodgrain stocks in the Central Pool in the beginning of the year stood at 66.6 mt, more than thrice the buffer requirement of 20 mt. According to Food Corporation of India data, wheat stocks stood at 34.38 mt on January 1, while rice stocks were 32.22 mt.

The buffer requirement for wheat stocks, as of January 1, was 8.2 mt, while that for rice it was at 11.80 mt. The strategic reserve requirement for rice is two million tonnes and for wheat it is three mt. Central pool stocks were more than twice after meeting the buffer and strategic reserve requirement.

Meanwhile, rice procurement in the ongoing kharif marketing season 2012-13, starting October, saw a 7 per cent increase at 18.8 mt as of January 8, over last year’s 17.55 mt.

vishwanath.kulkarni@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 9, 2013)
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