By Mayank Bhardwaj and Neha Arora
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s wheat production is set to fall in 2022 after five straight years of record harvests, as a sharp and sudden rise in temperatures in mid-March slashed crop yields at the world’s second-largest producer of the grain. .
The fall may hold back Indian exports of the product. Taking advantage of the rise in global wheat prices after Russia invaded Ukraine, India exported a record 7.85 million tonnes in the fiscal year to March – up 275% from a year earlier.
Expecting another record crop, traders and government officials saw an opportunity to export 12 million tonnes of wheat in the current fiscal year 2022-23.
In mid-February, nearly a month before the recent heat wave, the government said India was on track to harvest a historic crop of 111.32 million tonnes, up from 109.59 million tonnes a year earlier. .
The government has not yet formally revised its production estimates, but an official note, seen by Reuters, said production could fall to 105 million tonnes this year.
“The loss of wheat production is around 6%, due to the shrinkage of wheat grains by around 20% due to extreme heat and heat waves,” the note said.
In 2022, India recorded its warmest March in 122 years, with the maximum temperature across the country rising to 33.1 degrees Celsius, nearly 1.86 degrees above normal, according to data compiled by the Indian Meteorological Department.
“We have an initial idea, but it’s a little early to fully understand the extent of crop loss,” said a senior government official who tracks planting and harvesting.
At this stage, no one has a clear idea of the size of the crop, said Rajesh Paharia Jain, a trader in New Delhi. “It’s a dynamic situation, so we’ll have to wait a while to see a clearer picture,” Jain said.
(By Mayank Bhardwaj, Rajendra Jadhav and Neha Arora)
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