NEW DELHI, INDIA — Attractive prices and improved soil moisture following an intense heat wave earlier this year are encouraging farmers in India to plant more wheat for the 2023 crop, Reuters reported, citing preliminary data from the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare.

India, the world’s second biggest producer and consumer of wheat, plants its annual crop in October and November and harvests starting in March. Farmers have planted wheat on 15.3 million hectares since Oct. 1, when the current sowing season began, up nearly 11% from a year earlier, according to ministry data.

Although the wheat planting area has flattened in India's traditional grain belts in the northern states such as Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, farmers are planting the crop on some fallow land in the country’s west where pulses and oilseeds traditionally are grown.

Nitin Gupta, vice president at Olam Agro India, told Reuters that wheat prices currently are very attractive to farmers: “We can see a big jump in states like Gujarat and Rajasthan, where farmers could bring barren land under wheat.”

Despite the Indian government imposing a wheat export ban in May, along with new export controls in August, local wheat prices continue to climb, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) post in New Delhi.

Domestic wheat prices have jumped 33% so far in 2022 to a record 29,000 rupees ($355.19) per tonne,Reutersnoted, well above the government-fixed buying price of 21,250 rupees ($260.32).