November 24, 2008

India winter-sown wheat output seen higher on-year


India's wheat output this winter-sowing season is expected to be higher than the year-ago output of 78.4 million tonnes despite a slight lag in sowing so far, Sharad Pawar, the federal agriculture minister, said Sunday (November 23).


So far, in the current winter season, wheat has been cultivated in 8.4 million hectares, down from 8.5 million hectares a year ago.


"There has been some delay in wheat sowing in Uttar Pradesh because some sugarcane fields, which are also used for planting wheat, were harvested late this year," Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event.


However, the crop looks better this year as there is good moisture in the soil because of late rains, Pawar said.


India's sowing of wheat takes place from November and the crop is harvested in March.


Pawar also said that the government would review the import duty on crude palm oil "if oilseed prices fall below the minimum support price."


The government Tuesday imposed a 20 percent import duty on crude soybean oil, and left duties on crude palm oil unchanged.


Currently, there is no import tax on crude palm oil.


As India imports 85 percent of its palm oil and only around 12 percent of soyoil, industry bodies have been seeking a 30 percent import tax on palm oil to protect against increased imports in the country and arrest further decline in domestic oilseed prices.


Pawar said the country's agricultural growth this year is likely to be maintained at last year's growth of 4 percent.

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