New Delhi - The Food Ministry is optimistic of a high wheat output of well over 70 million tonnes this year on the back of a high support price and rich soil moisture in major producing belt due to bounty rains.
"At the outset, we have began well in the new Rabi season with the recent short spell of rain serving as a icing on the cake for wheat fields," Food Secretary T Nanda Kumar said.
He said even a 40 lakh tonne increase in procurement from this year's low level of 92 lakh tonnes will place the country in a comfortable position.
The high acreage of wheat sowing and the government's alertness in procuring as expeditiously as possible should see through a comfortable procurement for 2006-07, Kumar said.
The Union Cabinet had recently also increased the minimum support price of the commodity to Rs 750 per quintal from Rs 650 last year in a bid to procure higher quantities this year.
Wheat acreage registered a 69 per cent rise to 26.27 lakh hectares till November 10, 2006, from 15.56 lakh hectares in the corresponding period last year. The acreage of the foodgrain has shown a rising trend in every state where the sowing is in progress.
Wheat sowing is gathering momentum in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh.
The food secretary, however, admitted it would take time to achieve higher output outside the major growing states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. The government is focusing on enhancing output and productivity in emerging states such as Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, he said.