Most farmers opt for wheat owing to higher profits
While in the ongoing marketing season, Punjab and Haryana have witnessed an increase in area under mustard cultivation, mainly on account of better prices they received last year, farmers in both states still prefer wheat, which is sown on 60 lakh hectares compared to 8.20 lakh hectares under mustard cultivation.
For both states, mustard is the main oilseed crop, which constitutes around 96-99 per cent of the total oilseed production. In comparison to wheat, the total area under mustard is likely to touch around 50,000 hectares in Punjab and around 7.66 lakh hectares in Haryana — the area in a neighbouring state is larger because the crop is grown in the rainfed areas.
According to scientists, besides other factors, higher profits play a key role in farmers preferring wheat to mustard.
If both crops are sold at the MSP, wheat fetches better returns per acre than mustard. “The yield of wheat is three times more than mustard. If we consider last’s year MSP, it was Rs 1,975 for wheat, against Rs 4,650 for mustard. So, considering an average yield, we have found that on average, a farmer earns Rs 13,500 more if he cultivates wheat. So, better remuneration is the main motivating factor,” says Dr Raj Kumar, Principal Extension Scientist (Agricultural Economics), Punjab Agricultural University.
The highest per acre yield of wheat is around 22 quintals, while that of mustard is seven. This year, more farmers opted for mustard as it fetched higher returns and was sold over Rs 7,000 per quintal above the MSP.
Absence of end-to-end mechanisation is another crucial factor. In case of wheat, there is end-to-end mechanisation, right from sowing to harvesting, which has come as a saviour for farmers, as they are dependent on migrant labours. In case of mustard, there is absence of mechanisation especially at the harvesting level, so a significant labour is required to harvest the crop.
Further, there is price volatility in case of mustard, making it dependent on market forces. In case of wheat, profit is guaranteed as farmers are assured MSP.