Wheat production is expected to touch a new record of 114 million tonnes in the ongoing 2023-24 crop year on higher coverage and provided weather conditions remain normal, a top food ministry official said on Wednesday.
The last leg of sowing of wheat, the main rabi (winter) crop, is underway and will continue till next week. Till last week, wheat was planted in 320.54 lakh hectares, as per the official data.
Wheat production stood at a record 110.55 million tonnes in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June), compared to 107.7 million tonnes achieved in the previous year.
"We expect that total area under cultivation of wheat will increase this year and God willingly if the climate is alright the production will be 114 million tonne that's what the agriculture ministry has indicated informally to us," Food Corporation of India (FCI) Chairman and Managing Director Ashok K Meena told reporters.
Area sown to wheat crop is also showing an increase compared to the last year. There was a deficit of one per cent in some states but that will also be made up in the first week of January, he said.
"If that is the level of production, we are very confident that we will be able to procure more than our requirement and also additional stocks needed for the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) for next year," he noted.
When asked if the central nodal agency plans to step up procurement considering the opening wheat balance of 76 lakh tonnes to be on April 1, which is just enough to meet the buffer requirement, the FCI chief said: "We will try our best to provide minimum support price to all farmers. Because of the open market sale, the indications are prices have stabilised and are not higher than it was last year.
"Since the wheat MSP is higher by 7 per cent than the last year, we hope that lot of farmers will be willing to give their produce to the FCI," Meena said.
Last year, the FCI's wheat procurement stood at 26.2 million tonnes, higher than the annual buffer requirement of 18.4 million tonnes.
This year's wheat crop will be ready for harvest from April onwards.
FCI is the central nodal agency that buys rice and wheat to ensure MSP to the farmers and distributes the same for free to 81 crore poor via ration shops. It also uses surplus grain via OMSS to boost domestic availability and check prices.