Agri Business

Wheat headed for bumper output

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2020 Published on January 20, 2020

With godowns overflowing, fall in prices will hit farmers hard

 

The prospects of a bumper wheat crop this rabi season may overwhelm procurement agencies. Saddled with huge stocks they may lower prices, hitting farmers adversely.

As on Friday, the total wheat acreage was 330.2 lakh hectares (lh), up 33.22 lh compared to the previous rabi season’s 297 lh. A back-of-the-envelope calculation, which takes into account the increase in sowing in various States and their yield levels in the past, shows the output could go up by nearly 9 million tonnes (mt) when compared to last year if weather conditions continue to be favourable. According to the 2018-19 fourth advance estimates, wheat production last year was projected at around 102 mt.

‘Too early to decide’

However, a senior scientist at the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR) at Karnal, said it is too early to say how much the output would be.

“If there is a spike in temperature in March, the yield could dip. All I can say is that wheat production in the current season would be better than that the previous one,” said RK Sharma, Principal Scientist at the IIBWR, a constituent laboratory of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

Most of the increase in wheat acreage is reported from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

While MP diverted a part of the area under gram cultivation to wheat because of better soil moisture levels, the other three States have increased the acreage under wheat and gram.

MP sowed wheat over 78 lh till last week against 59 lh during the corresponding period last year; the increase in wheat acreage reported by Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra was 5.61 lh, 4.49 lh, and 3.86 lh.

Other traditional wheat-growing States – Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh – reported a tad lower wheat acreage when compared to last year. The increase in wheat output may have a serious impact on market prices, apart from making it difficult for the state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI), which is already struggling with huge excess stocks. According to the information available on its website, FCI has wheat stock of 32.8 mt when compared to 27.12 mt a year ago.

According to market sources, the offtake of wheat from FCI has been sluggish of late as the prices at which the state-run firm sells wheat were higher that the market rates.

 

Published on January 20, 2020
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