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A repeat of last year, India to witness another wheat crisis?

In 2022, the high temperatures in March and April damaged the wheat crop in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.

By nayanikaphukan
New Update
IMD forecasts above-normal winter temperatures across India

According to the Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), west cultivation in India has traditionally been dominated by the northern region of India. The states of Punjab and Haryana have been the largest wheat producers. Today, India is the second largest wheat producer in the whole world. Furthermore, studies and research show that wheat plays an important role in the management of India’s food economy.

2022 wheat crisis India

Since last year there has been a change in the scenario of wheat production in India. In 2022, the high temperatures in March and April damaged the wheat crop in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. During these months India faced a heatwave which resulted in harvest loss in many regions and increases in local prices.

An Ahir tribal woman in Nadapa village, east of Bhuj
An Ahir tribal woman in Nadapa village, east of Bhuj. | Courtesy: Flickr

On May 4th, 2022, the Central Government announced that it would procure only 19.5 million tonnes of wheat in 2022-2023 which is about 56% less than the targets decided for the year. Another reason for the shortage is the extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garia Kalyan Anna Yojana and the global wheat shortage due to a jump in exports owing to the Russia-Ukraine war.

On May 13th, 2022, India suspended the Export of wheat owing to the decrease in production. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) defended the ban in a notification that was published in the official gazette by citing the pressure that rising global wheat prices have had on food security not only in India but also in surrounding and vulnerable countries.

Read more: India wheat export ban: Why it matters to the world - BBC News

Government prediction for wheat production in 2023

This year with high-yielding varieties and the weather under favorable conditions, the government said that wheat production for 2023 is likely to rise 4.1% to a record 112.2 million tonnes.

However, Tribune India reported that wheat granary stock in Punjab has fallen to a new low as a result of production that was lower than expected last year. The procurement agencies only have 10 lakh metric tonnes and the Food Corporation of India has just 6 lakh metric tonnes. In comparison to 330 lakh metric tonnes in 2022, the central pool stock is only 171 lakh metric tonnes this year. 

Zero-tillage wheat in India
Zero-tillage wheat in India | Courtesy: Flickr

Read more: Modi govt has 2 goals to rescue India from another wheat crisis. Export ban should go next

Therefore, for farmers' incomes to increase, food inflation to be reduced and low wheat stocks to be replenished the upcoming wheat procurement season is essential. Any change in the temperature around the time of harvesting has the potential to impact grain quality. All these will ultimately decide if India can lift its ban on the export of wheat.

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