The Indian wheat economy is beset by a broken and opaque supply chain, which presents a formidable array of challenges to all the stakeholders within the ecosystem, including farmers, processors, traders, bakers, chefs, consumers, and scientists alike.
Among the plethora of obstacles that the space faces are a lack of traceability and standardization which leads to inconsistencies in the quality and grading of wheat. These issues not only lead to food fraud and the infiltration of low-quality wheat into the supply chain, but also engender confusion and mistrust among buyers and sellers, and only has negative spillover effects in the ecosystem.
Furthermore, the lack of infrastructure and technology within the sector makes it challenging to implement traceability systems and enhance the efficiency of the supply chain.
However, in light of these challenges, a nascent and untapped market for specialty wheat with a transparent supply chain has emerged as a crucial need of the hour in the last couple of years. As there is a lack of precedence in this arena, it can be deemed as a novel food category.
Such a supply chain enables consumers to trace the provenance of the wheat, not only guarantees its quality but also establishes a sense of trust with the consumers. This can potentially differentiate the product from conventional wheat, as consumers become more cognizant of the benefits of specialty products. Although the market may take time to fully develop and flourish over the next decade, as consumers come to understand and appreciate the value of specialty wheat.
Additionally, genetic diversity within wheat is a crucial consideration for both the sustainability of wheat cultivation and the diversity of end products that can be derived from it. Genetic diversity allows for the cultivation of wheat strains that are specifically suited to a wide range of environmental conditions, and it also facilitates the creation of distinct cultivars with unique characteristics, such as variations in protein, gluten content, starch, flavour, texture, antioxidants, fiber et al. This is crucial for the various end products that utilize wheat, such as bread, pasta, cakes, cookies and pastries, as each product requires specific wheat strains to achieve optimal results.
Therefore, in order to address the challenges facing the Indian wheat market, the cultivation and supply of specialty wheat with a transparent supply chain that takes into account genetic diversity, is imperative. This would not only guarantee the quality and authenticity of the wheat but also enable sustainable agricultural practices and cater to the diverse needs of end products.
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