Heat alert – No apparent impact, but March weather crucial for wheat

Source: The post is based on the article “Heat alert – No apparent impact, but March weather crucial for wheat” published in Business Standard on 27th February 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints.

Relevance: About wheat production and food inflation.

News: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted the temperature to be two to five degrees Celsius above normal in the major wheat-growing states for a few days.

What will be the impact of temperature rise on the Wheat crop?

Last year, the heat wave depressed wheat productivity by 2.5%, raising wheat prices above the minimum support price level, and denying the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other agencies to meet their wheat-procurement targets.

Hence, the government set up a high-level inter-ministerial committee of officials and farm experts to constantly monitor the crop and weather situation and issue timely advisories for the farmers to cope with the contingencies.

What are the steps taken by the government to control food inflation?

The management of food inflation has been fuelled partly by the high prices of cereals.

The government is reducing it by a) banning exports and releasing grains from public stock holding at concessional rates, b) The FCI has offloaded 5 million tonnes of wheat in the markets.

What should be done to further manage food inflation effectively?

Due to steps taken to reduce food inflation, the state reserves have dipped to their minimum level since 2017. Hence, the government should pay attention to the public stocks as further dropdown might challenge the needs of the vast public distribution system and welfare schemes.

The government’s wheat-price management policies seem to have got tilted towards the consumer to the detriment of the producer. This could prove counterproductive by hurting the wheat farmers. The government needs to strike a balance between the interests of the consumer and the grower.

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