India may have to import rice this year: Mukherjee | business | Hindustan Times
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India may have to import rice this year: Mukherjee

business Updated: Nov 18, 2009 17:35 IST
Pranab Mukherjee

Expecting a 14-15 million shortfall in paddy production and procurement this year, India may import rice to shore up its stocks, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in New Delhi on Wednesday.

"There is a projection that there will be a shortfall of our kharif (summer) crop. So we may have to make some imports," Mukherjee told reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by the Union Bank of India.

"As of now, the government has six million tonnes of surplus rice and seven million tonnes of wheat stocks," the minister added.

Mukherjee said recently that erratic monsoon this year, followed by floods in some parts of the country, could have lowered India's foodgrain output by 14-15 million tonnes.

"I'm waiting for a hard assessment of the sub-normal southwest monsoon and the impact of floods," he had told journalists. "There are some estimates that grain production will be less -- 14-15 million tonnes."

During the 2008-09 kharif season, India's rice production stood at 84.5 million tonnes, compared to an estimate of 69.45 million tonnes during this year's season.

The country logged record grain output last year (July-June), estimated at 233.87 million tonnes. But the failure of monsoon -- on which depends 60 percent of India's agriculture -- cast a shadow on this year's crop.