Wheat output up despite drought

Wheat production in the 2015-16 crop season, ending in June, is expected to be 94.04 million tonnes, almost 7.51 mt more than the same period last year, despite back-to-back droughts, according to the agriculture ministry’s third advance estimates.

The Centre plans to purchase a little over 28 mt of wheat from farmers in 2016-17 but might not be able to do that, due to higher than expected purchases by private traders.  Purchase could be around 25 mt, say some experts.

“The rains which happened twice during the season in March has indeed turned out to be beneficial for the wheat crop and there has been no report of damage to the crop,” R K Gupta, acting head of the Directorate of Wheat Research, Karnal, had recently told this newspaper.

The third advance estimates, issued on Monday, says overall foodgrain production in 2015-16 should be 252.23 mt, marginally more than the total production of 2014-15, estimated at 252.02 mt, “despite setback due to deficient rain and shortage of water in reservoirs”. The southwest monsoon in 2015 was almost 14 per cent less than normal, the fourth case of consecutive drought years in a century.

Output of pulses in 2015-16 is estimated to be 17.06 mt, marginally less than the 17.15 mt of 2014-15. The drop in kharif production this year due to drought seems to have been compensated by improvement in the rabi harvest.

Oilseeds production in 2015-16 is estimated to be 25.89 mt, down from 27.51 mt in 2014-15, mainly due to less production of soybeans during the kharif season. Sugarcane production is projected at 346.72 mt, down from 362.33 mt in 2014-15.

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