New Delhi: The country's wheat production is likely to touch a new record this year as improved soil moisture due to late monsoon rains and early winter would boost crop prospects, government research body ICAR said.
Wheat production stood at a record 93.90 million tonnes in the 2011-12 crop year (July-June).
"It looks like early winter and improved soil moisture is likely to boost prospects of wheat crop production to a new record this year," Indian Council of Agricultural Research
(ICAR) Director General S Ayyappan said.
"We hope to harvest a record output of wheat if temperature do not rise abruptly in February-March," he said, adding that the field preparations are in full swing and there are no specific concerns.
At present, sowing is underway in wheat growing states. The wheat acreage is slightly lower at 9.18 million hectares till last week of the rabi season that began from October, as against 9.23 million hectare in the year-ago period, according to the Agriculture Ministry data.
"We understand, there was a slight delay in sowing and the coverage has been lower. But we expect sowing to pick up in the next 15 days and acreage will be in pace with last year," Aayyapan said.
Asked if there could be any shift from wheat to other competing crops in the absence of no or marginal increase in the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat, he said, "All those apprehensions will not be there."
Last year, wheat MSP stood at Rs 1,285 per quintal. However, the decision on wheat support price for this year was deferred by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) early this month in view of differences among ministries on raising the price by Rs 115 per quintal.
The CCEA had asked the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) to review it. Meanwhile, the CACP has submitted is recommendations to the Agriculture Ministry maintaining is stand that there should not be any change in the MSP of wheat for this year in view of surplus stock.
A recent report of the think-thank National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has said: "Given the prevailing higher prices for oilseeds and pulses vis-à-vis wheat, the possibility of a no or marginal increase in the wheat support price for this year crop may prompt farmers in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to shift some area from wheat to less irrigation intensive crops."
It has also pegged wheat production lower at 90 million tonnes this year assuming normal weather conditions.
Wheat, a major rabi (winter) crop, is sown from October, while the crop is harvested during March-April.