Even as wheat stocks with the government are hovering around the buffer, sowing of the key rabi cereal has started on a brisk note, with a 54% year-on-year jump.
Wheat has been sown in 54,000 hectares in this season for the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) so far, compared with 35,000 hectare a year ago, the agriculture ministry data showed.
As on October 1, wheat stocks with the FCI and other government agencies were at 22.7 million tonne (mt), against a buffer of 20.5 mt and last year’s level of 46.85 mt.
Currently, wheat sowing activities are mostly in Uttar Pradesh,Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir. However, farmers in three major producers of the grain — Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh are yet to commence wheat sowing as harvesting of paddy was delayed by a fortnight because of surplus rains received during end of September and early October.
These are, however, still early days to make an assessment of the rabi crop as sowing would continue through December.
Meanwhile, the total area under all the winter crops was reported at 3.77 million hectare (mh) as on Friday, up 38% from the year-ago level. The five-year average rabi crop area is 63.3 mh.
Other major rabi crops are mustard, gram (chana) and coarse cereals.
Farmers seeking to use higher soil moisture from surplus rains received earlier this month.
Average area under wheat crop for the last few years is 30.4 mh.
Officials said that wheat sowing is being keenly watched this season, as the output had declined by around 3% to 106.8 million tonne (mt) in 2021-22 crop year (July-June) because of heat-wave prior to harvesting in March.
In the rabi marketing season (April-June) for 2022-23, wheat procurement by the Food Corporation of India and state government agencies dropped by more than 56.6% to only 18.78 mt against 43.34 mt purchased from the farmers in the previous year.
Pulse sown areas have been reported to be higher by 49% at 0.88 mh so far against 0.59 mh in the year-ago period. Areas under gram, which had a 50% in the country’s pulses production was reported at 0.7 mh against 0.6 mh reported a year ago.
Areas under oilseeds such as mustard and groundnut have been reported 30% more than the previous year at 1.9.6 mh, compared to 1.5 mh reported in the same period last year. The major chunk of oilseeds sown is mustard, which had been sown in 1.9 mh compared to 1.4 mh covered during the same period last year.
With the government announcing around 4% higher minimum support price (MSP) of mustard at rs 5,450 a quintal for the 2022-23 season, officials said that farmers are encouraged to grow more oilseeds so that the country’s import dependence on edible oil could be reduced.
Coarse cereals such as jowar and bajra were sown in 0.44 mh against 0.23 mh in the previous year while rice has been sown in 0.44 mh against 0.35 mh a year ago, according to agriculture ministry data.
In September, the government had set a food grain production target of 328 mt for the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) which is 4% more than a record foodgrain output of 315.7 mt in the previous year.