Business News/ Industry / Agriculture/  Govt optimistic about record wheat output despite adverse weather conditions

The government is hopeful of a record wheat production of 112.18 million tonne in 2022-23 (July-June) even as inclement weather conditions in some regions of the country hit grain quality, food secretary Sanjeev Chopra said on Thursday.

The agriculture department has estimated a record wheat production at 112.18 million tonne (mt) in the ongoing crop year, against 107.7 mt in the previous year.

Wheat crop in Madhya Pradesh has been hit at the harvesting stage due to rainfall and hailstorm. The state typically witnesses early sowing as well as early harvesting as compared to other key wheat producing states such as Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

About 16 districts of Punjab and some districts in Haryana are also reportedly facing crop damage.

The Centre earlier this week said about 8-10% of the wheat crop is estimated to have been damaged due to recent untimely rains and hailstorms in key producing states.

The inclement weather in the past two weeks may cause minimal crop loss but it will not have much impact on India’s total wheat production of 112 mt in 2022-23 (Jul-Jun) estimated by the agriculture ministry, the food secretary told reporters.

With this, wheat procurement estimated target set by the Food Corp. of India (FCI) is seen achievable, Chopra said.

Rainfall and hailstorm have caused luster loss in wheat, which has raised concerns over whether FCI would be able to procure the quantity the government set.

The government set a wheat procurement target of 34.15 mt for the 2023-24 rabi marketing year starting April, against 18.79 mt purchased in the previous year.

To address the wheat luster loss issue, reduce the hardship of farmers and avoid distress sale of wheat, the government has decided to relax procurement norms. Relaxation in wheat procurement norms has been given to Madhya Pradesh.

“Lustre loss wheat containing up to 10% without any value cut followed by relaxation from 10% to 80% with 1/4th of one full value cut on flat basis of MSP 2023-24 of wheat in entire State of Madhya Pradesh," the food ministry said in the communication sent to the state government on March 31.

The food secretary said after Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana have requested the Centre to relax procurement norms. “A crop assessment team is on the field and collecting samples. Based on its report by Sunday, relaxation will be given on the fair average quality (FAQ) to Punjab and Haryana. Thus, the set wheat procurement target of 34.2 mt by FCI is achievable,“ Chopra said.

Relaxations would be given to other states as well if asked, he added.

So far, FCI has procured about 2.5-3.0 mt of wheat, mostly from Madhya Pradesh, According to Chopra.

The low temperature in the past one month would turn out to be a boon to the regions where wheat was sown late, leading to better yield. This is expected to make up for the production loss.

Wheat, a crucial rabi crop, has a share of 35.5% in India’s total foodgrain basket. India is the second-largest producer globally after China.

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Updated: 06 Apr 2023, 05:47 PM IST
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