In February, the government projected record wheat output of over 111 million tonnes. A fortnight ago, food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey had told reporters that due to the early onset of summer, production was estimated to fall to 105 million tonnes. The last production dip was attributed to drought that year.
The lower output in India and some other countries, along with global supply crunch for grain in the wake of the Ukraine war, are seen as the key drivers for international wheat prices, which have soared in recent weeks, prompting the government to reverse its earlier push for exports and impose strict restrictions on shipments out of the country. The Centre has, however, maintained that there is adequate stock in the country, much higher than the buffer requirement to meet the domestic requirement.
The decline in wheat production has not affected the overall foodgrain output which will still be an all-time high of 314 million tonnes, 1% higher than the 2020-21 crop year, the government said. What has helped is record production of other major crops such as paddy, maize and pulses in the current crop year (July-June cycle).
The ministry on Thursday released the third estimates of the output of foodgrains, oilseeds, sugarcane, cotton and jute for the 2021-22 crop year. The third estimates are usually quite close to the final figures which will be released later.