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India relies on climate

Индия разчита на климата

A momentary cold snap sweeping central and northern India may help farmers harvest a good wheat crop this year, but any sudden, unusual rise in temperatures will hit yields, local officials and growers said.

This year's wheat crop is critical for India, the world's largest grain producer after China. Hot and unseasonably warm weather reduced the country's wheat production in 2022 and 2023, leading to a sharp reduction in government reserves.

A third consecutive bad harvest will leave India with no choice but to import the required quantities. The government has so far resisted calls to import wheat - a seemingly unpopular move ahead of a general election earlier this year.

A prolonged drop in temperatures has helped wheat during its vegetative growth, but their rise expected in the next few days could negatively affect the crop during the crucial stage of grain formation.

"Due to the cold weather, we expect a slightly better yield than the normal 3.5 tonnes per hectare and so we think we will hit the target of 114 million tonnes," Gyanendra Singh, director of the state's Directorate of Wheat Research, told Reuters.

"After the delayed sowing, the period of cold weather has helped the plants, but the weather conditions must remain favorable at least until the beginning of April to have a good harvest," state the local growers.

"Cooler temperatures have raised our hopes, but we're keeping our fingers crossed," said Ravindra Kajal from the northern state of Haryana. "The wheat crop has suffered due to sudden rise in temperatures in February and March in the last two years."

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