The famous Sharbati wheat of Madhya Pradesh may have lost its sheen, literally, due to unseasonal rains but is now commanding an even higher premium.
Prices in the wholesale market have climbed up by 25% as compared to last year due to crop damage following unseasonal rain, traders said.
Known for its taste and quality, the premium wheat is in great demand from private wheat traders, such as ITC and Cargill, who make bulk purchases during this time of the year.
The wheat is used for making flour, pasta, biscuits and is also exported.
“Initial estimates suggest that about 50% area under Sharbati wheat crop has been affected and so the demand is more than the supply.
The medium quality Sharbati wheat this season is being sold for Rs 1,600 to Rs 1,800 per quintal while superior quality Sharbati wheat is fetching Rs 2,200 to Rs 2,500 per quintal, which is about 25% more than the prices last year,” wholesale grain trader Sunil Motwani said.
Another problem is that a large quantity of wheat arriving at the mandis has lost some of its sheen.
These grains have lower shelf life and so are not bought by the private players.
Traders say that the prices of good quality wheat could increase further not only in Madhya Pradesh but also in other wheat producing states such as Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
“The prices are higher as compared to last year as crop damage has pushed up the demand for high quality Sharbati wheat,” said an official of Reliance Retail requesting anonymity.
Government agencies have estimated a loss of 5-7 per cent in wheat production this year because of the unseasonal rains.
While the government’s minimum support prices (MSP) for wheat this year is Rs 1,450 per quintal, farmers are unlikely to get the same for damaged wheat.
According to initial estimates, wheat production in the state this season was expected to be around 18 million metric tonnes but the actual production could be about 5-7% less.
Sharbati wheat production accounts for nearly 1.50 million tonnes.