India may import 2 m tonne of wheat: USDA

New Delhi, Feb 26 | Updated: Feb 27 2008, 06:16am hrs
Low carry-over stock coupled with likely fall in wheat output may compell India to import about 2 million tonne of the grain during 2008-09 marketing year, a report published by the US department of agriculture said.

The countrys buffer stock is expected to be below 4 million tonne. Wheat production is also pegged lower by 1.3 million tonne at 74.5 million tonne, compared to the previous marketing year, the report said.

Wheat production is projected to be lower as the total area under wheat acreage has declined by 5,00,000 hectare. The fall in acreage has been in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar due to poor soil moisture and higher temperatures during sowing, it said.

USDA warned that India's wheat supplies are expected to come under pressure as demand for the grain through the public distribution system continues to rise. Unless the government resorts to wheat imports, stocks by the end of 2008-09 marketing year could fall below the desired buffer stock level of 4 million tonne, it added.

With the general election due inearly 2009, the Indian government would take all steps to increase domestic supply of wheat and check rising prices, it said.