After the rains, rot sets in
With untimely rains in the last two weeks in Punjab, Haryana and parts of Western Uttar Pradesh – regions that contribute significantly to India’s wheat stocks – the Centre has asked these states to provide impact assessment reports. The reports, that will reach the Ministry of Agriculture later this week, will provide the correct picture of how much crop has been damaged, Union Agriculture Secretary PK Mishra said on Monday.
“Rain and hailstorm may have a little impact, but I think there shouldn’t be any problem in achieving the target of wheat production,” Mishra said.
The advanced estimates tabulated by the government in February already suggest that the production of wheat in the country is set to fall by nearly one million tons (MT) below last year’s production of 75.8 MT. The rains could further impact wheat production.
“The rain might have an impact but it should not affect the overall target for wheat production,” Mishra said. He admitted that the correct assessment of damage to the standing wheat crop can only be made after the reports prepared by the field staff in different regions are collated in New Delhi. When asked about the impact of zero duty import of edible oil on the domestic oilseeds production, Mishra said market prices of edible oils are still high enough to sustain production.
While the Agriculture Ministry waits for reports on the damage from the respective states, Director General of Uttar Pradesh’s Council of Agricultural Research (UPCAR) Professor Chandrika Prasad said the freak rainfall during the harvesting period had virtually broken the backbone of the farmer.
“Stacks of harvested crop were lying in the field and wheat grains soaked in rainwater have started rotting,” a UP agriculture department officer said.
Director of the Regional Meteorology Department KP Kulshrestha said the rainfall accompanied with gusty wind had hit the districts of West, Central and parts of East Uttar Pradesh. “The rainfall has had an adverse impact on the wheat crop,” he said.
Director of Agriculture JP Tripathi said the department was collecting reports from district officials about the impact of the rainfall on Rabi production. Though the actual figures would be out in a few days, Tripathi estimated close to a 50 per cent loss. The UP agriculture department had set a target of 317.61 lakh metric tonnes of Rabi production this season.
“In several districts, inclement weather had an adverse impact on the harvested as well as the standing crop. Rain was accompanied with strong winds. The standing crop could not bear such condition as wind pulls down the crop,” he said.