Rains could affect Punjab’s wheat crop

April 20th, 2011 - 1:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, April 20 (IANS) Punjab contributes over 50 percent to the national kitty of wheat, but rain and thunderstorms in parts of the state this month could badly affect the quality and quantity of the crop, say farmers and officials.

D.S. Grewal, Punjab’s food and civil supplies secretary, told IANS, “Rainfall during the month of April is not favourable for the wheat crop. There is moisture in the air, which delays the ripening of the wheat crop and affects its quality.”

Rains have lashed parts of Punjab this month.

“Due to rains, some farmers have also postponed the harvesting process, resulting in the late arrival of wheat in wholesale grain markets.”

“Thunderstorms and hailstorms can also badly affect the quality of the final product. However, we are hopeful that wheat arrival will pick up in the coming days. We have set up 1,634 procurement centres in the state,” added Grewal.

Rains have damaged the wheat crop in several areas in various districts, including Amritsar, Ferozepur, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur.

According to official figures, government agencies and private millers had procured over 900,000 tonnes of wheat in Punjab till Monday whereas in the corresponding period last year, over 6.1 million tonnes wheat had been procured.

“We are waiting for the weather to become clear before we resume the harvesting. Strong winds have also flattened our standing crop and it could also lead to discoloration of grain. We want the state government to do proper evaluation and provide appropriate compensation to the farmers,” Mahipal Singh Virk, a Punjab-based farmer, told IANS.

In Punjab, the wheat harvesting season is from April to June. However, the major chunk of harvesting is completed by mid-May if the weather remains warm. The state is one of the major contributors of wheat in the country.

Major Singh, another farmer, said, “This year rain has played spoilsport and it would affect the crop cycle throughout the year in the state. We are afraid that it would be really difficult to achieve targets this year.”

In 2010, Punjab procured nearly 10.5 million tonnes of wheat and this year they are expecting to cross the mark of 11 million tonnes.

However, the weatherman has predicted overcast conditions for a couple of days.

“We are expecting isolated spells of rain and thunderstorms in various parts of Punjab. After that, the weather would open up in this region,” a Met official said Tuesday.

(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at alkesh.s@ians.in)

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