New Delhi: In the backdrop of declining soil fertility in wheat growing areas, the government will find it difficult to significantly improve prospects for the foodgrain year from an all-time record of 78.40 million tonnes achieved in 2007-08.
Better rainfalls in the northern states, which contribute to the bulk of the wheat granary, would not help the situation because, “in high-productivity areas, wheat yields seem to be plateauing,” a government statement said.
The Agriculture Ministry has set a conservative target of 78.50 million tonnes, a shade above last year.
Sowing for wheat will begin in October mainly in Punjab and Haryana and the Centre will be asking the states to ensure that the sowing is completed by November-end.
The Ministry will do a brain-storming on Wednesday with agriculture scientists and policy makers, both from the Centre and the States to discuss ways to improve the yield.
The meeting would address the important issue of decreasing soil fertility. “Decreasing soil fertility due to reduction in carbon and increased deficiency of micro-nutrients are ... important factors responsible for low productivity,” it said.
India achieved a record wheat production last year which saw an increase of about three million tonnes over 2006-07. This helped the government to procure over 22.6 million tonnes for meeting the public distribution requirement. Its godowns have built strategic reserve of three million tonnes.
But according to experts, the challenge is to keep the production growing in commensurate with increasing demand that had led to hardening of prices of foodgrains.
The government is battling the inflation of over 12% and the management of food prices remains a key area of concern.