Agri Business

Wheat set for record output despite some farmers reporting lower yield

Subramani Ra Mancombu Chennai | Updated on April 21, 2021

Record area under the foodgrain likely to buoy production

India’s wheat production is on course for record production, despite some farmers, especially in Madhya Pradesh, reporting lower yield.

“Our scientists have visited different parts of the country where wheat is grown. We don’t find any problem with the crop. The Union Government has projected a record crop of 109.24 million tonnes (mt). I expect it higher than 110 mt,” said Gyanendra P Singh, Director of Karnal-based ICAR-Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR).

Singh was responding to a question on whispers in the trade that wheat production could be lower this year compared with a record 107.86 mt.

Earlier this week, Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu told media that initial reports pointed to 2-3 quintal lower yield in Punjab, though he has said that picture would be clear only later. Shrivelled grains were also reported from Tarn Taran district, he said.

“We have done a survey of wheat production, including through satellites. Wheat production is expected to be good. It could be a record,” said BK Singh, founder of BKC WeatherSys.

“In Punjab, we hear that the yield is lower by 10 per cent as unseasonal weather during January and February has affected the crop,” said Bhagwan Das, Secretary-General of Youth Farmers Association of Punjab.

“We had heavy fog in December. It seems to have affected our production. If I got 7.5 tonnes per hectare of wheat last year, this year it is down to about six tonnes,” said Sunil Mukhati, a farmer in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore district.

Anand Singh Anjana, a farmer in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain district, said, “If I got 1.2-1.4 tonne per bigha (1.6 acre) last year, this year, it is down to 700-800 kg.”

Both Mukhati and Anjana have harvested their crop. “I sold my superior variety Lokwan wheat in the agricultural produce marketing committee yard at ₹2,200 a quintal, while the other variety I gave it for government procurement,” Anjana said.

“Our wheat crop is better this year. We got 1.2-1.3 tonnes acre against one tonne last year. This year, we have benefitted as there were no rains in our region in December,” said Jaikishore Singh from Masoi village in Uttar Pradesh’s Chandauli district.

Uttar Pradesh is the top wheat producer in the country contributing over 30 per cent of the total output, while Punjab, which makes up 18 per cent, and Madhya Pradesh, which provides 16 per cent, are the next best producing States. “This time, the moisture is lower at 8-9 per cent compared with the usual 12 per cent. It could be one reason why farmers are feeling that they are having a lower crop,” said IIWBR Director.

“Lower moisture will mean the weight will be lower. This time, the area under wheat was higher and it will make up for any drop in the yield,” said Pramod Kumar, Vice-President of Roller Flour Mills Association of India.

This year, wheat was cultivated on a record 34.63 million hectares (mh) compared with 33.64 mh last year and the normal 30.32 mh.

Wheat prices in key States such as Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are ruling at the minimum support price (MSP) level of ₹1,975 a quintal. The MSP has been raised by ₹50 this year from ₹1,925 last year.

As of Tuesday, the Food Corporation has procured 13.65 mt of wheat from 11 of the States where it is grown. Punjab tops the procurement at 49.34 lakh tonnes, though Ashu told BusinessLine that 54 lakh tonnes had been procured until April 19.

Last year, a record 38.99 mt of wheat was procured. This year, the Centre has set a procurement target of 42.73 mt.

Besides, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) is carrying record wheat stocks of 27.30 mt against the mandatory norm to carry 4.46 mt of operational stock and three mt of strategic reserve.

Published on April 21, 2021

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