India sees wheat output at 74 m tn

New Delhi, Jan 19 | Updated: Jan 20 2007, 06:09am hrs
India is likely to produce at least 74 million tonne of wheat in 2007 with weather conditions favourable and farmers planting the crop over a larger area, a senior farm ministry official said on Friday. The estimate of 74 million tonne is conservative, agriculture commissioner Narendra Bahadur Singh told Reuters. Production may cross 74 million tonne if temperatures do not rise in February and March. A sharp rise in temperature in February 2006 trimmed Indias wheat output to 69.5 million tonne after early estimates for the year forecast production of around 74 million tonne. A similar effect was seen in 2005.

An additional one million hectares have been brought under wheat sowing this year, Singh said. So far, the weather has been conducive and if it does not get unusually warm, we will have a bountiful output. In the current season, farmers have sown wheat on 27.55 million hectares, buoyed by higher prices of the cereal.

India, the worlds second-largest wheat producer, grows only one crop of the grain in a year. Sowing is in the winter months of November and December and the harvest takes place from March. The country normally grows wheat on around 26 million hectares, mainly in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana, and the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

Lower output last year forced India to import 5.5 million tonne of the grain to shore up depleted buffer stocks.