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India’s Wheat Planting Remains Constant Despite Record Price Hike

Despite a record rise in wheat prices, farmers in a key producing central state switched to rapeseed to take advantage of even higher prices for the oilseed, according to farm ministry data.

Shivam Dwivedi
Wheat provided farmers with good returns, but rapeseed provided even better returns, as per a dealer.
Wheat provided farmers with good returns, but rapeseed provided even better returns, as per a dealer.

A lower-than-expected planting area in the world's second-largest wheat producer may cap an expected increase in output, after output fell last year due to a heatwave that forced New Delhi to ban exports due to limited supplies from the Black Sea region due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

 

A rise in rapeseed output could help the world's largest edible oil importer reduce its purchases of palm oil, soy oil, and sunflower oil from other countries. Wheat cultivation was expected to increase significantly due to higher returns than competing crops, according to government and industry officials.

The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare reported that wheat area increased by 0.4% to 34.32 million hectares (84.8 million acres) for the 2022/23 crop year, up from 34.18 million hectares last year. India only grows one wheat crop per year, with planting in October and November and harvesting beginning in March.

 

Domestic wheat prices reached an all-time high of 32,500 rupees ($393.36) per tonne in January, far exceeding the government-mandated purchasing price of 21,250 rupees. Farmers in Madhya Pradesh, a leading wheat producer in the central state, surprised forecasters by switching to oilseeds from wheat, according to a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading house.

"Wheat provided farmers with good returns, but rapeseed provided even better returns," the dealer explained. The area under rapeseed, the main winter sown oilseed crop, increased 7.4% year on year to a record 9.8 million hectares, according to the data.

 

The total area of winter-sown crops increased to a record 72.07 million hectares, up from 69.8 million hectares last year, as rice sowing increased by 32% to 4.63 million hectares. Late October rains increased soil moisture levels, allowing farmers to plant more wheat, rapeseed, and other crops, according to dealers.

 

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