A large number of farmers in Shahjahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh are willing to grow black wheat even as the absence of a local market for the crop is proving to be a deterrent for many.
Black wheat is a different kind of wheat which comprises high quantity of anthocyanin, an antioxidant pigment. The presence of this pigment in the wheat leads to an increase in its nutritional value.
“This time, black wheat was produced in over 250 acres by more than 200 farmers in the district. At the local level, the wheat is being bought at Rs 6,000 per quintal, while in the bigger cities, it is being sold from Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 per quintal. The district administration is making efforts that the farmers benefit at the local level,” Shahjahanpur DM (district magistrate) Umesh Pratap Singh told PTI.
Prem Shankar Gangwar, a resident of Tilhar, said that this time he grew black wheat on an experimental basis on one acre of land, and also set up a (food) processing unit for the crop, in which instead of ‘maidaa’ (flour), biscuits are being made using black wheat.
He also said that the black wheat flour has become a better alternative to normal flour.
“Its taste is different from the usual wheat, but it is quite nutritious. The crop is like that of wheat, but as it ripens, its grains become black,” Gangwar said, adding that black wheat’s flour resembles ‘sattu’ which is made of gram.
Chief Development Officer of Shahjahanpur Shyam Bahadur Singh said that information about cultivation of black wheat is given to farmers in all the villages. Apart from making seeds available to them, the agriculture department has formed a team, which will also train the farmers in growing this variety.
The team will inspect the crop and also give directions for proper maintenance of the crop.
Another farmer Rakesh Pandey said that with the help of the administration black wheat is being grown on a large area in Kalan, Tilhar and Powaya tehsils of the district.
Pandey also said that if processing units are installed here or if the farmers get a market, their income will increase by more than double.
Avadhesh Verma, a farmer in Dadraul area of the district, said, “I grew black wheat on 10 bigha of land (around 6.24 acre). Owing to no market here, the wheat was sold at a very low price. However, it was sold from Rs 80-100 per kg in the online market.”
About the problem faced by the farmers, the DM said, “Farmers are being encouraged to grow black wheat, so that their income increases. We will take up the issue of installing food processing units here for black wheat in the next meeting of the ‘Udyog Bandhu’.
Once the processing units are installed here, more farmers will be benefitted. Also, instructions have been issued to the officials of the agriculture department to establish contact with traders for purchase of black wheat, he said.
‘Udyog Bandhu’ (friend of the industry) is an organisation of the UP government, which facilitates investment in industrial and service sectors, besides solving various problems of existing and upcoming industries while dealing with different government departments.
This article has been republished from The Week