Slow wheat procurement gains attention, raises eyebrows about domestic availability

Relatively cool temperatures in March month and untimely April rains have delayed the wheat harvest in parts of North India. Rains and storms in Haryana Punjab, Northern Rajasthan and Western UP slowed down the harvest, resulted in increased moisture content and in some cases, crop lodging in some pockets. With the weather turning favourable again, we expect to harvest and subsequently local market arrivals to pick up over next 2-3 weeks. Our sources have shared their feedback on production prospects, indicating that while moisture content has been on the higher side and despite some isolated crop damage in some districts of Rajasthan and Punjab, overall realized yields in the major wheat growing region are slightly better than last season. Similar yield reports are from Central India as well, where the harvest has been largely over. However, market arrivals are slower than last season in states like Madhya Pradesh as well, where farmers are waiting for more clarity on bonus announcement by the state government of INR 160/quintal on top of minimum support price. General elections have also been another important factor to impact the local arrivals, with election-related activities, have slowed down the harvest as well as grain marketing. Agalabs research desk believes that the domestic production of wheat is expected to be at least at par with last year and the arrivals should pick up in coming weeks. On the flip side, slow local arrivals, if continued in next 2-3 weeks could also be an indication of the lower crop than expected, and could pose challenges for the government if they miss their procurement target. The wheat procurement process will be crucial to follow in April-May months.