Ahmedabad, Feb 20 (Calcutta Tube) India may have record wheat production in the current Rabi season if rain or hail does not damage the crop that will soon be ready for harvest, says S. Nagarajan of the central agriculture ministry.
Nagarajan, chairperson of the protection of plant varieties and farmers’ right authority, was delivering the keynote address at an international seminar on ‘wheat and wheat products – towards millennium development goals’ here Friday evening.
However chairman of the seminar Vinod Kapoor struck a cautious note when he said that India needs to increase its wheat production by 12 million tonnes to 92 million tonnes a year over the next decade to meet the food needs of its growing population and this target can be achieved only through intensive research, water harvesting and major investment in agriculture initiatives.
In his keynote address, Nagarajan said: ‘As India and China are major consumers of wheat, the prices in Chicago wheat market have direct correlation with the market scenario in both these countries.
‘As the population of our country is growing at a rapid pace, we need to increase the per hectare yield of wheat. We have successfully done this in the past, as per hectare yield has increased to 3,000 kg in 2008-09 from 2,500 kg in 1997-98. But to continue with such improvement, major investment in research and development activity is a must.’
He was optimistic about the prospects for a good output of wheat this Rabi (winter) season. ‘Extended winter till February is a good indication for the wheat crop. If a spell of rain or hailstorm does not take place in the first week of March, India may witness record production of wheat in the current season.’
Other speakers at the two-day seminar felt that crop failure, climate change, use of agriculture produce in bio-fuels and shortage of land as a result of rapid urbanisation pose serious threats to food security, but these issues could be addressed with a focused approach.
The seminar — which is being jointly organised by Wheat Products Promotion Society,(WPPS), Roller Flourmills Federation of India (RFMFI), Society of Indian Bakers, All India Bread Manufacturers Association and Gujarat Roller Flour Mills Association — is being attended by representatives from government agencies, corporate houses from India and abroad, millers, bakers, trading and export houses, service providers, researchers and other stakeholders.