Wheat target for 09 at 78.50 MT

Written by Commodities Bureau | Agencies | New Delhi, Sep 22 | Updated: Sep 23 2008, 06:11am hrs
India has targeted a wheat crop of 78.50 million tonne (MT) in the next crop year that starts in April 2009, only marginally higher from this year's estimated actual output of 78.40 MT, due to stagnating yields.

However, the timely and adequate availability of certified seeds, and sowing of wheat at the right time, encouraging balanced use of fertilisers and use of high-yielding varieties could ensure that the country harvests another record wheat crop, the agenda note circulated ahead of the government's annual Rabi Campaign--2008 showed.

Wheat accounts for over 70% of the foodgrain production in the country, with rice accounting for the rest. The crop is sown in October and harvested in March and April. In 2008, because of a mammoth increase in production, government agencies managed to procure a record 23 MTof wheat.

Buoyed by the surge in procurement, the government has embarked on an ambitious programme to distribute around 4 MT- 6 MT of wheat to consumers under an open market sale scheme (OMSS). It has also decided to create a strategic reserve out of the procured wheat to meet any exigencies. The country imported 1.79 MT of wheat in 2007 to build its stockpiles, helping fuel last year's 77% gain in prices on the Chicago Board of Trade.

"In areas of high productivity , wheat yields seem to plateau due to decreasing soil fertility caused by reduction in carbon and increased deficiency of micronutrients among other factors responsible for drop in crop-levels," the official note said.

On rice, the government aims to scale up harvest to 14 million tonne during the coming rabi season, up from 13.62 million tonne last year. In India, the bulk of rice is cultivated during the kharif season, the sowing for which starts in June and July and harvest begins from September. Around 10 MT to 12 MT is also grown mostly in southern states during the rabi season. Rabi rice is sown during October and November and the harvest begins from February. In 2007-08 (October-September), the government estimates, total rice crop in the country (kharif and rabi) to be a record 96.43MT.