Prolonged winter to help increase output of rabi crops like wheat, oilseeds

India's wheat production in 2018-19 crop year is likely to cross 100 million tonnes -- an all time high -- on better yields because of prolonged winter this season, Agriculture Commissioner S K Malhotra said Thursday.

Pulses production is estimated to be around same level of 25 million tonnes, but oilseeds output could rise to 32-33 million tonnes in 2018-19 crop year (July-June) from 29 million tonnes last year.

"Wheat crops are in a good condition. Recent rains and prolonged winter season will prove to be a boon for the growth of wheat crop," Malhotra told reporters on the sidelines of a FICCI conference on mint farming.

Wheat production is expected to cross 100 million tonnes in 2018-19 based on feedback from states as against a record 99.70 million tonne in the previous year.

The increase in production will be led by growth in productivity and not area, he added.

Sowing of wheat, the main rabi (winter) crop, has reached 298.47 lakh hectare till last week, slightly lower than 299.84 lakh hectare in the year-ago period.

Malhotra said the country has become self-sufficient in pulses production and now the government's focus is on raising oilseeds output to cut edible oils import, which is around Rs 70,000 crore annually.

Earlier addressing the conference, the commissioner said the government is supporting mint growers through many schemes to boost output. At present, he said mint oil production would be more than 30,000 tonnes, of which around 20,000-25,000 tonnes are exported.

He said there is a shortage of planting material of good varieties. "We need to have accredited nurseries to grow quality planting materials".

Malhotra favoured cluster-based approach and creation of farmers producers organisation for mint farming. He said efforts should be made to inculcate good farming practices among growers.

Mars Wrigley Confectionary general manager Andrew Leakey said the company is running a project in Uttar Pradesh to help mint growers increase productivity and production as well as their income.

"The Shubh Mint programme shores up our long-term commitment to India, which is one of our priority markets globally. India is an important sourcing origin for Mars ingredients, primarily mint, which powers our line of freshening products that delight consumers all over the world," Leakey said.

The company through this programme propagates good agricultural practices and support farmers to address key challenges faced in cultivation, he said.

The programme also focuses on education interventions, ensuring that successive generations which represent a bright future for Uttar Pradesh, are empowered as well, Leakey added.

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