May 15, 2013
Indian states Punjab and Haryana's grain production targets are likely to fall short despite bumper harvests last year.
Production of wheat has dropped in both states. With the procurement season about to be over within a few days, the projected deficit in wheat arrival in Punjab is about 3,000,000 tonnes.
Grain markets in the state expect about 11,000,000 tonnes of wheat as against the projected target of 14,000,000 tonnes. The quantity is way less than last year's bumper arrival of 12,900,000 tonnes. Experts attributed the fall in production to an untimely rainfall in March which damaged the standing crop. Sources in the government said farmers in Punjab stand to lose about INR30 billion (US$548 million).
The Bharitiya Kisan Union has pegged the damage at INR47.5 billion (US$867 million). Director of Punjab Agriculture Department Mangal Singh has confirmed the production deficit. He said the region was hit by rainfall in March which damaged the crop leading to "below-expectation arrivals in grain markets."
In Haryana, the drop was steeper than Punjab. Wheat arrival is likely to drop from 8,800,000 tonnes last year to 6,000,000 tonnes this year, sources said. Experts said the plunge in production was not a matter of serious concern since "the fall was on account of an uncontrollable variable, adverse weather condition, which prevailed during that time."
The area under wheat production has remained constant, though the government intends to curtail the area under traditional crops and encourage farmers to diversify for better yield. Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union president Gurman Singh said the government should offer bonus to the farmers. With many new states taking up wheat production, the dependence on Punjab and Haryana to fill the central grain pool will also reduce. At present, the two states account for about 70% of the wheat produced.