India may set record wheat output this year on good rain: Govt

The government on Thursday said the country's wheat production this year may surpass the previous record of 94.88 million tonnes after good rains took water reservoir levels to a 10-year high.

Updated: Sep 26, 2013, 15:29 PM IST

New Delhi: The government on Thursday said the country's wheat production this year may surpass the previous record of 94.88 million tonnes after good rains took water reservoir levels to a 10-year high.

India, the world's second-biggest wheat grower, had produced a record 94.88 million tonnes of wheat in the 2011-12 crop year (July-June), buoyed by a good monsoon. Poor rains in 2012-13 lowered the output to 92.46 million tonnes.

"We are quite confident that we will easily achieve the wheat production target of 92.5 million tonnes this year as the water level in reservoirs is the highest in the last 10 years. If the temperature remains good at various stages of crop growth, we could even cross the previous record," Agriculture Commissioner J S Sandhu told the agency in an interview.

Sandhu said water in the country's reservoirs has risen to 130 billion cubic meters now, as against 155 billion cubic meters of usable storage capacity.

While the reservoir position is very good in the north, south and west, there hasn't been much improvement in central India due to less rainfall, he added.

As soil moisture is good, sowing of rainfed wheat will begin next month, while planting in irrigated areas will start in the first week of November, he added. Sowing of wheat, the main rabi (winter) crop, normally starts in October and harvesting takes place in March-April.

Sandhu said farmers will be encouraged to use two seed varieties (HB2967 and HH1105) that are resistant to yellow rust fungal disease. Availability of the two seed varieties is sufficient, he added.

On other winter crops, Sandhu said, "We aim to achieve a total foodgrain production of 128.5 million tonnes in the rabi season of this year. It is an easily achievable target."

The government has set a rabi production target of 12 million tonnes for pulses, 14 million tonnes for rice, 4.4 million tonnes for maize and 1.5 million tonnes for barley, he added.

PTI