NEW DELHI: India is poised for another record harvest of winter-sown crop as cold weather and showers in key grain-producing areas of northern India are expected to improve yields of wheat, oilseeds and pulses.
Agriculture commissioner S K Malhotra told ET that weather conditions in many states including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have been very favourable for crops, which would increase food output to a new high. “Conditions are ideal for wheat, oilseeds and pulses, which are in the growth stage at this moment. Cold conditions with light rains will increase the yield. The only precaution is, water should not stand in the field,” he said.
According to latest rabi sowing data released by the agriculture ministry, wheat acreage — which accounts for over half the sown area — is up over 11% to 32.646 million ha, because of a rise in planting in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The total rabi sown area has also climbed to 62.5 million ha, 8% more than 57.847 million ha planted during this time last year.
The surge in sowing is supported by the better availability of water in reservoirs across the country. According to latest Central Water Commission report, 120 major reservoirs have a cumulative storage of 130.28 billion cubic metre (BCM) of water, which is around 53% more than 85.04 BCM recorded last year. “If conditions remain ideal, this year will have a record wheat production if strong winds, heavy rains and hailstorms don’t hit the crop during harvesting stage in February and March,” he said.
In the previous season, India produced a record 116.42 million tonnes (MT) of rice and 102.19 MT of wheat. Oilseeds production stood at 32.25 MT while the pulses output was 23.40 MT. The government however is concerned with the output of kharif (summer) crop, which has been badly hit due to late monsoon followed by erratic and excessive rains in parts of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The government’s first advance estimates of kharif this year show a slight drop in the harvest. However, ground reports suggest that the output may suffer a shortfall of least 10-12%.