After facing loss due to terminal heatwave last year, more farmers are cultivating climate resilient wheat varieties which has been sown in more than 60 per cent of the planted area of 30.86 million hectares so far, according to agriculture commissioner P K Singh.
Wheat is the main rabi (winter) crop, sowing of which normally begins in November and harvesting is done from March-April.
As per the agriculture ministry data, wheat sown area stood at 30.86 million hectares till December 22 of the ongoing rabi season, slightly lower than 31.44 million hectares in the year-ago period.
"This is because there was a delay in wheat sowing in some parts where paddy harvesting got late. Otherwise, wheat sowing is progressing well," Singh told PTI.
Keeping in mind the terminal heat problem that wheat farmers faced last year, the government this year has promoted climate resilient wheat varieties and kept a target to cover 60 per cent of the total cropped area, he said.
"We have exceeded the target as heat-resistance varieties have been sown in more than 60 per cent of the cropped area so far. Last year, these varieties were sown only in 45 per cent of the area," he said.
This should help farmers face the terminal heat problem if it occurs again in March-April 2024, he added.
It is pertinent to note that a scorching heatwave in March 2022 had reduced wheat yield in north and central Indian states.
To prepare farmers to deal with heatwaves in advance, the Agriculture Commissioner said the government has started issuing weekly scientific advisories educating them how to take care of the crop at different growth stages and weather conditions.
"Earlier, we used to issue advisories on a fortnightly basis, but this year we are doing it weekly in order to prepare farmers well in advance," he said, and added that creating awareness and preparing farmers to face eventualities will help in addressing production concerns.
As per the data, area sown to wheat in Uttar Pradesh has increased to 9.44 million hectares till December 22 of the 2023-24 rabi season, from 9.29 million hectares in the year-ago period.
However, wheat area sown in Madhya Pradesh was slightly lower at 8.17 million hectares, as against 8.39 million hectares in the said period.
In case of Punjab and Haryana, wheat sown area was almost at last year's level of 3.49 million hectares and 2.31 million hectares, respectively till December 22 of this rabi season.