India’s food security depends to a great extent on the output of wheat and rice. These two crops together made up nearly 80 per cent of the total foodgrain production in 2009-10; coarse cereals constituted the remainder. The area under coarse cereals has steadily declined over the years even though their yield has improved. Coarse cereals have high nutritional value and there is every reason to promote their production and help them with better R&D.
Having achieved a record wheat crop of more than 12 million tonnes this season, Punjab farmers have become richer by more than 141 billion (almost US$ 2.7 billion). A Punjab government official said in Chandigarh that the government had mobilised the government machinery to ensure hassle-free procurement and pay the farmers within 48 hours of lifting their produce from the grain markets. The district of Sangrur in south-west Punjab led in wheat procurement, followed by Ludhiana and Patiala. Farmers in Sangrur have netted nearly 15 billion for their wheat, the official said. Punjab’s projected wheat output of 15.6 million tonnes is now likely to cross 16 million tonnes in view of the heavy arrival of crop in the state's grain markets. In fact, for the first time in decades, Punjab and Haryana have recorded the highest-ever procurement figures for wheat. Together, they have procured more than 20 million tonnes of wheat this season, following a bumper crop. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) releases money to the state government for the procurement of wheat and paddy twice every year. The government procures wheat in April-May and rice in October-December each year. Well beyond already elevated estimates, India is expected to produce a record 91 million tonnes of wheat in 2012, Sharad Pawar, Minister for Agriculture, told newsmen late in April while releasing the ministry’s latest output estimates. India consumes about 76 million tonnes of wheat a year. It grows one wheat crop, which is planted in November-December and harvested in March-April. Helped by a record output in India, global wheat production is estimated to be the second highest ever at 690 million tonnes in 2012, United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a recent report. According to FAO, wheat production in India is expected to exceed 88 million tonnes in 2012. In its advance estimate, the Ministry of Agriculture had pegged India’s 2011-12 wheat output at 88.3 million tonnes, compared with last year’s 87 million tonnes.
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