Bhogpur (Punjab), Feb 22 : Farmers in Punjab are a happy lot as they are hoping to reap rich dividends from the wheat crop this year.
Wheat has emerged as a lucrative option for them in comparison to other crops like maize, potatoes as it proves easy on their pockets.
The production of wheat had gone down in Punjab, which is the biggest contributor of heat to the Union pool.
India grows only one wheat crop in a year, planting for which starts in October and continues for about a week. The crop will be harvested from March onwards.
The Government's declaration of seed prices of the crop much ahead of sowing operations prompted farmers to go in for a wheat crop, as the prices of wheat seed are quite reasonable and easy on their pockets.
"Instead of potatoes, we have sown wheat this time because the Government had announced the rates of wheat seeds well in advance before we began sowing. The farmers were quite happy with the prices announced and decided to sow wheat this season. The second reason is that the potato crop was destroyed due to frost and so we decided to sow wheat and are hoping for around 15-20 quintals of crop this time," said Amarjeet Singh, a farmer.
The area under wheat cultivation in the region has gone up to 34 lakh hectares this year in comparison to last year's 33.50 lakh hectares.
Agriculture officials predict, India will produce 75 million tonnes of wheat in 2008 if temperatures are favourable. Punjab farmers are hopeful of contributing quite a sizeable amount to the Union pool this time.
"This year more than 34 lakh hectares land is under wheat cultivation and if weather conditions permit, there is every possibility of reaping a bumper output. We are hoping to reap anywhere between one to 1.5 quintals per acre of wheat," said Maninder Pal Singh, agriculture officer.
India produced around 75 million tonnes of wheat in 2007.
High temperatures in February 2006 had clipped output to 69.3 million tonnes, forcing the first imports in six years to build Government stocks and help control prices.
Needing around 73 million tonnes of wheat a year to feed its huge population and cater to the changing food habits, India tapped global markets for 1.8 million tonnes of the grain in 2007.