Dampened hopes: A farmer walks in his wheat field, where crops were damaged during a
storm, on the outskirts of Jalandhar, north Punjab – AFP
Unseasonal rains across northern parts of the country could impact wheat harvest in key producing States such as Punjab and Haryana and triggerquality concerns.
Govt allays fears While farmers and traders fear that the rains would hurt grain quality and shrink output, Government agencies maintain there is no major impact on the crop, so far. GP Singh, Director of the Karnal-based Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research said the rains in Punjab and Haryana are ‘scanty and scattered’ and will not affect the crop. “In fact, we are heading for a record year in wheat as the crop has been good in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, where harvest has already commenced,” Singh said.
The Agriculture Ministry has pegged wheat crop at 97.11 million tonnes (mt) for 2017-18.
As of March 1, wheat stocks in the Central Pool stood at 15.15 mt — higher than last year’s 9.42 mt.
Crop size to shrink
“Rainfall at this time is not at all welcome, mainly for the wheat crop as it will downgrade the quality,” said KK Singh, Head-Agrimet at the IMD. “Wheat harvested and still lying in the fields will get affected. Also, the standing crop in isolated places that have witnessed heavy rains will get affected. However, it would be difficult to quantify the losses at this time,” Singh said. Veena Sharma, Secretary, Roller Flour Millers Association of India, said the rains have a bad impact on the crop affecting both quality and the crop size. “We fear that the crop size would come down to a great extent,” she said.
Gujarat farmers too hit
In North Gujarat, farmers said hailstorm and rains have impacted wheat and pulses crops. The increase in the moisture level in the crop will hurt the quality fetching lower prices in the market. Saurashtra has witnessed heavy showers. “The major crops that are being harvested at present are wheat, onion, garlic and pulses, besides sesame. Crop condition may worsen further as the weather department has predicted more rains in the next 48 hours. This will spoil the wheat seeds and also onion,” said Vitthal Dudhatara, Secretary, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh. Gujarat’s agriculture officer based in Jam Khambhaliya stated that weather condition is bad for the harvest.
“We suspect more than 20 per cent damage to the crop wherever it has rained in the crop-harvest stage. At several places, wheat arrivals have started in Saurashtra. The crop, which was harvested and not stored in a shed properly, would be completely spoiled,” he said.
“The rains might distort wheat quality and flour millers may require more quality wheat for their blending needs. It will accentuate the need to have more imports to the tune of 2-2.5 million tonnes this year,” said Amit Bharadwaj, CEO of Level A Commodities.
Meanwhile, the government agencies have procured 1.93 mt so far in the current marketing year as against 2.07 lt in the corresponding peroid last year.
Bulk of the procurement has happened in Madhya Pradesh, say the latest numbers from the Food Ministry.
The government has fixed wheat procurement target at 32 mt for 2018-19 marketing year, as against last year’s 30.8 mt.
Source : Business Line
Published on: April 18, 2018