Wettest monsoon in 25 years to yield bumper wheat crop

Wettest monsoon in 25 years to yield bumper wheat crop

Agency News

India's wheat production could jump to a second consecutive annual record in 2020 as the wettest monsoon in 25 years is set to help farmers in expanding the area under the winter-sown crop while also boosting yields, industry officials said.

But that higher production would add to India's already swelling inventories, potentially forcing the world's second-biggest wheat producer to ramp up procurement of the grain from farmers and provide incentives for overseas sales to support local prices.

'The area under wheat and yields would rise due to good rainfall. We can certainly produce more than last year's record production,' said Mr. Gyanendra Singh, director at the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research.

India grew 102.19 million tonnes of wheat in 2019. The country received monsoon rains during the June-September season that were 10 per cent above average and the rainfall continued during October and November, increasing soil moisture levels.

Rainfall also lifted the water level in the country's key reservoirs to 86 per cent of capacity compared to 61 per cent a year ago and a 10-year average of 64 per cent, according to government data.

Only one wheat crop is grown in India each year, with planting starting in late October and harvesting in March. Farmers are inclined to expand the area under wheat as its prices are more stable than any other crop due to government buying, said Mr. Harish Galipelli, head of commodities and currencies at Inditrade Derivatives & Commodities in Mumbai.

New Delhi sets minimum support prices (MSP) for nearly two dozen crops to set a benchmark, but state agencies mainly buy rice and wheat at those prices. For 2020, India has lifted the price at which it buys locally produced new-season wheat by 4.6 per cent to Rs. 19,250 rupees a tonne.