India to harvest wheat close to last year's record: Govt
New Delhi: Wheat output is likely to be close to last year's record level of 93.90 million tonnes and conducive weather in the next two months is crucial for better yields, Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna said on Monday.
He also said that the final foodgrains production estimate for last year would be revised upward by less than one percent from the earlier estimated all-time high of 257.44 million tonnes.
"I am hopeful of achieving last year's wheat output level. Gains in crop yields would depend on good weather in February-March," Bahuguna told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.
The country was able to achieve a bumper wheat crop in the 2011-12 crop year (July-June) as crop yields rose due to conducive weather during February and March, he added.
Asked if production would be affected due to a lag in wheat sowing so far, Bahuguna said, "Sowing of major rabi crops including wheat is almost over now. Wheat area is down by 0.4 lakh hectare as compared to last year. If you compared with average acreage in the last five years, the area coverage is higher by 4.1 lakh hectares. There is nothing to worry".
According to official data, area sown under wheat has declined to 294.98 lakh hectares so far in the current rabi season, from 295.93 lakh hectares in the year-ago period.
Rabi (winter crop) sowing starts from October onwards and harvesting begins from February-end. The government has kept a conservative production target for wheat at 86 million tonnes for the current year.
On other rabi crops like coarse cereals, pulses and oilseeds, the Secretary said, "Sowing of most rabi crops is over now. Rabi production looks as good as last year".
States like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are likely to be affected as area under rabi crops are lower, while Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat (which suffered drought during Kharif season) are doing well, he said.
During the rabi season of the 2011-12 crop year, the country had produced a record 127.50 million tonnes of foodgrains. The target for the current year's rabi has been kept at 120.5 million tonnes.
As far as pulses and oilseeds are concerned, Bahuguna said: "We are doing well, especially in chickpea (chana) and mustard seed. Frost damage in mustard seed is insignificant".
Sowing of crops like wheat, rice, maize and oilseeds like soyabean are taken up well by farmers as market for these commodities are developed, he said.
However, the same is not the case with minor oilseeds like sunflower and cereals like jowar and bajra, he observed.
Overall, rabi crops have been sown in 592.02 lakh hectare so far compared to 591.56 lakh hectare at this time last year.