India set for record wheat output: Expert

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India is set for record wheat output in the current crop year on higher acreage, conducive weather and fewer crop pest attacks, the chief of Directorate of Wheat Research at Karnal, Gyanendra Pratap Singh, said.

“Production of the food grain is likely to touch 115 million tonnes compared with 107 million tonnes in the previous year, looking at the crop position in major growing states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana,” Singh said.

The bumper production in the rabi season and higher carryover stock by government procurement agencies should ease pressure on household budgets, according to companies and analysts.

Over the last two weeks, wheat flour manufacturers have reduced prices by up to 12%, giving combo offers and even freebies to consumers.

The current crop year runs from July 2020 to June 2021. According to Singh, there have been no reports this year of any crop diseases or pest attacks and the current weather condition will lead to higher yields.

According to latest government data, the acreage under wheat has increased by 3% over the previous year to 34.63 million hectare.

Over the last two weeks, wheat flour manufacturers have reduced prices by up to 12%, giving combo offers and even freebies to consumers.

Adani Wilmar, which sells under the Fortune brand, has reduced retail prices of wheat flour by 10% in the last two weeks, according to Angshu Mallick, deputy chief executive of Adani Wilmar.

“With expectation of a higher crop over the previous year, there is pressure on the market and prices remain low, which we are passing on to the consumers. This is also helping us to push sales in the last quarter,” said Mallick.

Udit Jain of Delhi-based Rajdhani group, said the company is offering a 12% discount at Rs 245-250 for a 10 kg wheat flour pack. “In the long run, prices will see another fall in May-June after the crop is harvested and the grain dried of its moisture content,” Jain said.

Meanwhile, ITC Limited, which sells under the Aashirvaad brand, is giving a 100-gram turmeric pack on purchase of its wheat flour.

Wheat harvesting in the country is set to begin by the first week of March, with major buying by government agencies for its various social programmes and by private players for production of maida, flour, dahlia, rawa and suji, which will be processed to make breads, biscuits, pasta, flour, etc.

The Food Corporation of India and other agencies were holding 30 million tonnes of wheat in stock as on February 1, according to Navneet Chitlangia, secretary of Roller Flour Millers Federation of India. “By April 1, the government agencies will have 25-26 million tonnes of wheat as against the minimum requirement of 7.5 million tonnes in the strategic and buffer norms. Over and above it will be procuring wheat for the various government schemes, which will keep prices stable,” he said.

India’s wheat production has been increasing steadily since 2016-17, with scientists also attributing it to good seed varieties, which can withstand the vagaries of weather and are disease-tolerant.

Higher production of the food grain can make India a competitive player in the export market apart from ensuring stable domestic prices, said Prerana Desai, head of rural and corporate services research at Edelweiss. However, Desai said that one must watch for sudden increase in temperature or rainfall during the harvest period in March and April which might impact the crop position.

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