Sunday, July 21, 2024

Record wheat output of 112 mt likely in FY23: Food secretary

New Delhi: The government is hopeful of a record wheat production of 112.18 million tonne (mt) in 2022-23 (Jul-Jun) despite inclement weather in some regions of the country affecting grain quality, food secretary Sanjeev Chopra said on Thursday.

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

About 16 districts of Punjab and some districts in Haryana are 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.

Inclement weather over 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 (July-June) estimated by agriculture ministry, the food secretary told reporters. Last year India’s wheat production declined to 107.7 mt due to heatwaves.

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

Rainfall and hailstorm have caused lustre loss in wheat, which has raised concerns about 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 lustre loss issue, reduce the hardship of farmers and avoid distress sale of wheat, the government has decided to relax procurement norms. Wheat procurement norms have been relaxed for Madhya Pradesh.

The food secretary said Punjab and Haryana, too, have requested relaxation of 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. Relaxation would be allowed for other states as well if they ask, 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 past one month would turn out to be a boon to the regions where wheat was sown late, leading to better yield. This may make up for production loss.

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

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