In field experiments in six districts of Haryana, best practice management (including zero tillage and 3-way split application of N-fertiliser) provided small (2%) improvements in grain yield when compared with local farmer practice. This best practice management also gave consistent improvement in chapatti quality as measured by grain hardness (11.4%) and chapatti score (3.2%). Where a ‘shot-gun’ mix of micronutrients and sulphur was included with farmer practice treatment, or with best practice treatment, grain yield was increased by about 3% and there were further improvements in quality. Net returns were calculated for wheat production, the large cost saving associated with not undertaking the 4 cultivations used in local farmer practice, the best practice treatment was always the most profitable (by 9%), and even if no yield improvement was assumed this treatment would still be 6.7% more profitable. Even though it had a 30 to 40% yield penalty, the most profitable practice involved using variety C-306. This is an old wheat variety recognised as the standard for chapatti quality, and C-306 gets at least twice the market value of wheat sold at prices set as a minimum support price. High yields of wheat and its availability is an on-going priority for India, particularly for maintaining food security for the large population. Therefore, any wholesale change in production that moves farmers away from optimizing total grain production is untenable. However, 16 to 20% of farmers and consumers already have some direct marketing/purchasing of the wheat harvest via local markets, and these often involve quality considerations.
Key words: Chapatti quality, profitability, wheat marketing.
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