Experts from the Punjab and Haryana meteorological centre in Chandigarh, who had earlier forecast rainy days only until early April, on Monday revised the prediction to say bad weather for the wheat crop will go into mid-April.
“We are inundated with telephone calls from farmers and agricultural experts for weather update. They are worried about saving the wheat crop from further damage but we foresee more light to heavy rainfall along with high-velocity winds and hailstorm until mid-April. This is a result of strong western disturbances over north India since March 29, which will delay harvesting and procurement,” stated meteorological centre’s director, Surinder Pal Singh.
Agricultural and food scientists said the wheat crop, which had been struggling to mature against unfavourable weather for the past many weeks, was unlikely to have quality grain; and if the moisture content was high, the grain would be good neither for long storage nor buffer stock.
“The grain that will reach the market should be procured at the earliest, for it is likely to have high moisture content. It is from the crop that has faced regular rain for several weeks. The quality of grain coming from the fields where logging has taken place will be even lower,” said Krishan Singh Khokhar, vice-chancellor of Haryana Agricultural University (HAU), Hisar.
In his estimate, the 25% overall wheat loss in Haryana may rise another 15 to 20% by the coming week.
Narpinder Singh, one of the country’s leading food scientists and a professor in the department of food sciences and technology at Amritsar’s Guru Nanak Dev University, said the quality of grain this year might not be to the liking of the bakery industry. “Not only biscuit and bread but also chapatti made of these grains might be to no family’s taste,” he said.
Amarjit Singh, senior extension engineer in the processing and food engineering department of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), said if it rained during the harvesting days as well, the situation would worsen.
Punjab agriculture commissioner Balwinder Singh said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who had earlier asked the Centre for Rs 700 crore as compensation for damage to the rabi crops, had sought Rs 17 crore more after rain over the past two weeks.