Centre asks States to promote heat tolerant wheat seeds in the rabi season

Agriculture Secretary calls for increase in the coverage of area under heat-tolerant wheat varieties to 60%; IMD predicts El Nino conditions are still strong

September 26, 2023 09:43 pm | Updated 10:12 pm IST - New Delhi

Photo used for representation purpose only.

Photo used for representation purpose only. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Union government on Tuesday held an interaction with the States on the preparedness for the upcoming rabi crop season in the background of a 5% decrease in monsoon in this year. The Centre has asked States to promote heat resilient and high yielding varieties of wheat among farmers.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign 2023-24, Union Agriculture Secretary Manoj Ahuja said the meeting had also reviewed the kharif season.

Mr. Ahuja said the Centre is targeting an increase in the coverage of area under heat-tolerant wheat varieties to 60% this season. He said in his inaugural address that 800 climate-resistant varieties are available in the country and States must place these seeds in the seed chain as part of a seed rolling plan. “As a strategy, I request all States to identify specific areas and map varieties that can be sown,” Mr. Ahuja added.

The Union Secretary shared information on rainfall with the States, and that said if the pattern of rainfall and variations in temperature kept changing, it would affect agriculture.

“We have seen how rainfall patterns are changing. We had a deficit in June, a surplus in July, [it was] dry in August, and again excess rainfall in September. As a result, there is a 5% rainfall deficit in the country,” he said, adding that there was also a severe deficit in the reservoirs in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, and Karnataka compared with the 10-year average.

“There is still monsoon expected in October-November in certain States. The IMD (India Meteorological Department) is still saying El Nino conditions are strong. They would be predicting, but I think you should be ready, and States should keep this in mind while preparing for rabi season,” the Agriculture Secretary said.

Citing the third advance estimates (2022-23), Mr. Ahuja said the production of food grains in the country is estimated at 3,305 lakh tonnes, which is higher by 149 lakh tonnes than the previous season. “Record production is estimated of rice, maize, gram, pulses, rapeseed, and mustard, oilseeds, and sugarcane. Total pulses and oilseeds production during 2022-23 is estimated at a record 275 and 410 lakh tonnes, respectively,” he said. He added that the food grain production in the country had increased by 31% in last eight years from 251.54 to 330.54 million tonnes.

The conference was to review crop performance during the preceding crop seasons and fix crop-wise targets for the rabi season in consultation with State governments, and prepare a roadmap to ensure supply of critical inputs and facilitate adoption of innovative technologies to enhance production.

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