No duty free wheat import after Dec 31

New Delhi, Sept 29 | Updated: Sep 30 2006, 05:30am hrs
Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Friday denied any possibility of extending the concession of duty-free import of wheat by private trade beyond the scheduled date of December 31, 2006.

He also said the government would not import any more wheat beyond the contracted 5.5 million tonne. The quantities of wheat contracted on government account were arriving as per schedule, he said.

Inaugurating a conference on agricultural biotechnology organised by the International Life Sciences Institute, the minister stressed the need for researches and development of transgenic crops.

He said, Biotechnology can add value to Indian agriculture. If agriculture is considered the engine of the Indian economy, then biotechnology is only one such tool that can help reduce poverty, improve food security, reduce malnutrition and improve the livelihoods of the rural poor if used in a responsible manner.

He, however, said, Biotechnology should not be taken as a substitute of the conventional plant breeding methods.