One of India’s leading agriculture experts and a distinguished professor at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), Ashok Gulati, says this year’s heavy unseasonal rainfall will not have a serious impact on the government food stock levels and its commitment to the public distribution system. He added it’ll not necessarily have any impact on inflation.
However, he admitted that unseasonal rain “will impact both the quality of the rabi wheat harvest as well as the quantity of production”.
Prof. Gulati said that from his personal assessment, the most damage to the rabi wheat crop has been in Punjab, but in other major wheat producing states such as Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, “the damage is not as much as in Punjab”.
He also said that while there’s some impact on the mustard crop and mangoes in Maharashtra, the damage to other crops like chilly, coriander, cumin, chickpea, potatoes is not a measure of great concern.
In a 28-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Prof. Gulati spoke at length about the reported damage to the rabi wheat crop in Punjab. According to Hindustan Times, the wheat crop has been damaged in Punjab “in over 15 lakh acres, which is more than 40% of the net sown area”.
Quoting Gurvinder Singh, director of Punjab’s agricultural department, the newspaper said “there would be around 15% yield loss.”
Commenting on this matter, Prof. Gulati said that of the 112 million tonnes expected nationwide, Punjab produces around 17-18 million tonnes. It’s the third biggest wheat producing state, not the first. It contributes 6% of the overall nationwide wheat production. So, he calculated, even if a 15% yield loss, as predicted, occurs in 40% of the net sown area, that will amount to a total loss, in nationwide terms, of between 1% and 3% at most. This will not create a serious problem for the country.
He added that the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, with significant technological additions, is the right and best way of responding to such adverse climatic conditions, which for two years have affected the rabi crop.