New Delhi: Production of foodgrain in India — comprising rice, wheat, coarse grains and pulses — is estimated at a record 315.7 million tonnes in 2021-22, shows the fourth advance estimates released by the Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday.
According to the latest numbers, wheat production is revised upwards, though marginally, from 106.4 million tonnes (as per the third advance estimate released in May) to 106.8 million tonnes in 2021-22.
However, current wheat production is estimated to be the lowest in three years, and 2.5% lower than 109.6 million tonnes produced in the previous year (2020-21).
According to the agriculture ministry, production of rice and pulses, at 130.3 million tonnes and 27.7 million tonnes respectively, was at a record high in 2021-22.
Apart from foodgrain, the Agriculture Ministry also estimates oilseeds production at a record 37.7 million tonnes.
“The record production of so many crops is the result of the farmer-friendly policies of the central government under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as (the) tireless hard work of the farmers and the diligence of the scientists,” Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said in a statement.
According to the ministry, wheat harvested in April-May at 106.8 million tonnes was higher than the five-year average production by almost 3 million tonnes.
After a record heat wave blighted the wheat harvest in 2022, India imposed a ban on exports in May to keep domestic food prices in check.
In May, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) office in Delhi estimated the wheat crop at 99 million tonnes due to ‘heat stress resulting from an unprecedented spike in temperatures.’
However, the USDA official estimates released last week (12 August) estimated the size of harvest at 103 million tonnes.
Traders and mill owners in India estimate the wheat crop to be much lower, at 90-95 million tonnes.
“According to Niti Aayog projections, demand for wheat is estimated at 99 million tonnes in 2021-22. So, even after producing 106 million tonnes of wheat this year, if India had to ban exports of wheat flour and wheat products, it goes to show that the government was not confident about its own production estimates. Trade estimates of wheat production is around 95 million tonnes,” said Siraj Hussain, a former agriculture secretary and promoter of Arcus Policy Research.
“Export of branded wheat products should have continued in accordance with the agriculture export policy of the commerce ministry (2019). Export of processed foods should not face a ban,” Hussain added.
Data from the Consumer Affairs Ministry show that wheat prices are on the rise. As on 17 August, wholesale wheat flour (atta) prices were 18.4% higher year-on-year, while retail prices were higher by 15%.
Among major cities, retail wheat flour prices rose the highest in Kolkata (40%, year-on-year), followed by Mumbai (29%) and Delhi (21%).