International Agriculture News

India: Wheat acreage likely to be better than last year with better water availability

New Delhi: Wheat planting this year is expected to surpass last year’s 31 million hectares on the back of better water availability and soil moisture.

Officials said wheat planting has begun in irrigated parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and will pick up in other regions, including Punjab and Haryana, in the coming days.

“The area will increase over the previous year with ample water in reservoirs and good soil moisture,“ said Gyanendra Pratap Singh of the Directorate of Wheat Research in Karnal in Haryana.

India, the world’s second-largest producer of wheat, recorded a bumper crop of 98.38 million tonnes last year. For 2017-18, the government has set a target of 97.50 million tonnes.

Last season, wheat planting topped the previous year’s 31.55 million hectares by 8%. Higher acreage supported by good prices would increase farmers’ income and lower the country’s dependence on imports. As per trade figures, the country has already imported 1 million tonnes of the commodity this year.

“With planting yet to pick up, we can easily say it will be similar to the previous year. A lot will depend on the minimum support price for wheat and also on the government’s position on import duty on wheat,“ said Raj nikant Rai, CEO of agriculture business division at ITC .

According to traders, ITC is the largest buyer of wheat after the government, procuring over 2 million tonnes every year. Traders are hopeful that the government will increase the minimum support price of wheat by `100 a quintal to `1,725.They also want the import duty on wheat to be increased to 25% from 10% at present.

As on October 1, the government’s wheat stock stood at about 25.3 million tonnes.

Dinesh Pareek, head of wheat business at Patanjali Ayurved, said the area under wheat in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh is expected to increase this year with heavy rains covering the region. “Farmers will prefer wheat over chana or mustard in those regions,“ he said.Patanjali procures 0.4 million tonnes of wheat annually to process into flour and products.

Source The Economics Times