Over 5.23 lakh hectare wheat crop destroyed

Over 5.23 lakh hectare wheat crop destroyed

This year, the wheat sown area is around 34 million hectare. The government is estimating a record 112.2 million tonne wheat output in the ongoing 2022-23 crop year

New Delhi/Chandigarh/Bhopal/Jaipur: Untimely rains, hailstorm and strong winds have impacted wheat crop across more than 5.23 lakh hectare in three states, triggering fears of huge yield loss for farmers and harvesting challenges. India is one of the major producers of wheat, a key staple for a significant population, and the crop damage scenario also comes against the backdrop of persisting high inflation and food security woes globally amid geopolitical uncertainties. Around 5.23 lakh hectare of wheat crop is estimated to have been damaged in three states -- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh -- due to the inclement weather, according to officials. The assessment of wheat crop damage in Punjab and Haryana is underway, they said.

This year, the wheat sown area is around 34 million hectare. The government is estimating a record 112.2 million tonne wheat output in the ongoing 2022-23 crop year (July-June), the officials said. Union Agriculture Secretary Manoj Ahuja told PTI the government on Monday will review along with state governments the extent of damage caused to wheat and other rabi crops because of the fresh spell of untimely rains received in the last two to three days. Wheat is a major rabi (winter) crop. Rains have come at a time when the crop was almost ready for harvesting.

In some parts of Madhya Pradesh, the government procurement at minimum support price has begun. Since the last two weeks, major wheat growing states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have received unseasonal rains accompanied by thunderstorm, hailstorm and gusty wind due to the western disturbances. The untimely rains are expected to continue for a few more days.

"There is a heavy loss to the wheat crop because of the inclement weather. Against an average yield of 20 quintals per acre, this time it will drop to 10-11 quintals an acre," worried grower Bhupinder Singh from village Badarpur in Punjab's Mohali district, told PTI. Singh,who has grown the winter crop over 34-acre of land in Badarpur, said at some places in his fields, the crop has also flattened because of high-velocity winds. There will be an average 50 per cent yield loss in wheat crop because of untimely rains and high-velocity winds, he said and added, "If rain continues for more days, the crop will completely submerge in it." Another farmer from Madhya Pradesh, Ajay Singh -- who owns two acre of land in Khajuraho -- said, "We are noticing fungal disease in the wheat crop due to high moisture. The quality of grain will be affected."

The total area of wheat cultivation in Madhya Pradesh is 95 lakh hectare, out of which "nearly one lakh hectare" has got affected in the recent rain and hailstorm, said a senior official of the Madhya Pradesh agriculture department. "The crop loss is not much and even in the affected areas the lustre on the harvest is little bit affected," the official added. In Rajasthan too, about 3.88 lakh hectare of wheat crop out of total sown area of 29.65 lakh hectare has been impacted due to the untimely rainfall, said official sources. Besides wheat, mustard, channa, barley and other vegetable crops have been impacted in Rajasthan. About 1.54 lakh hectare and 1.29 lakh hectare of mustard and channa crops, respectively, have been damaged due to rains in the state, the sources added.

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