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Sun shines on both farm and factory

delhi Updated: Feb 13, 2010 09:23 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times
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Foodgrain production is not going to be as bad as feared some months ago, show farm output estimates released by the government on Friday.

And expect prices to cool down after months of free flight upwards.

Foodgrain production in 2009-10 is likely to be around 217 million tonnes. This is only 7 per cent lower than last year, compared to an earlier projection that had predicted a decline of 18 per cent.

The expected cut in losses is being attributed to aggressive handling of rabi or winter-sown crop, with the government’s pumping a subsidy of Rs 288 crore for cheaper seeds.

Friday’s data could help rein in food prices, which have surged in recent months, partly on fears of shortage.

The annual food inflation rate touched an 11-year record of 19.95 per cent on December 5.

“These improved outlook should at least have a positive effect in terms of sentiment,” Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen told Hindustan Times.

According to the second advance estimates, or the government’s second of the quarterly projections of farm outp-ut, India is likely to harvest 80.28 million tonnes of wheat in 2010, a tad lower than last year's record 80.58 million tonnes.

India is the world’s second-biggest producer of wheat, sown in October and harvested in March.

But farm officials are worrying over possible higher-than-normal temperatures, which can damage wheat, nearly ready for harvest.

“The 2009 drought was obviously better-handled than previous ones. But rabi is still up in the air. Adverse weather can still damage it,” Sen said.

India exceeded its foodgrain production target for 2008-09 at 233.88 million tonnes, with both rice and wheat leading the surge. However, last summer’s drought – the worst in three decades – was thought to trim output considerably.