January 11, 2023
Wheat production in India could reach a record high, after all-time high prices of the grain pushed farmers to expand planting areas with grow high-yielding varieties, helped by good weather conditions, Business Recorder reported.
Increased wheat production might persuade India, the second-largest producer of the grain in the world, to consider lifting its embargo on its exports. This would allay concerns about persistently high food price inflation.
Gyanendra Singh, director of the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research, said due to the larger planting area and good weather, this year's production in India could reach 112 million tonnes.
In May 2022, India, which is also the world's second-largest consumer of wheat, outlawed exports after a sudden and sharp rise in temperatures cut production, even as shipments overseas increased to make up for the global shortage brought on by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
India's government estimates showed wheat production decreased from 109.59 million tonnes in 2021 to 106.84 million tonnes in 2022. The record-breaking rise in wheat prices despite the ban on exports points to a much greater decline in this year's output.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service estimates production at 100 million tonnes, but traders believe output may have fallen as low as 95 million tonnes due to a heatwave early last year.
Temperatures in important wheat-producing states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana have been favourable this year because they have been slightly below average.
Singh said the crop will grow better because of the recent cold snap, adding that farmers have chosen newer, higher-yielding varieties that are more resistant to climate change.
Since the start of the current sowing season on October 1st, farmers have planted wheat on 33.22 million hectares, an increase of almost 1% from a year ago.
India only produces one crop of wheat each year, which is harvested starting in March after being planted in October and November.
While the crop has so far benefited from the favourable weather, a New Delhi-based trader with a global trade house said that temperatures need to stay on the cool side in February and March.
The trader said grain formation the previous year was hampered by the abrupt temperature increase in February and March, and hopes that the weather stays cool this year.
- Business Recorder