Govt says no immediate plans to import wheat

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New Delhi, Jan 18 (UNI) The government today said it has no immediate plans to import wheat as it has sufficient buffer stock to fulfill the current demand, and is targeting a record wheat production of 75 million tonnes in 2008.

''There is no plan to import wheat immediately,'' Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters here.

He said till now the weather has been good and if it continues like this for the next two months, the country would witness a bumper wheat production estimated at 75 million tonnes this year.

''Weather has been good so far and if the conditions continue to remain the same, safely we can say we will cross 75 million tonnes of production,'' the Minister said, adding that the production from Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh are expected to be satisfactory.

Meanwhile, the Minister ruled out any plan to cut edible oil import duty as of now, despite global prices of palm and soy oils ruling high because of diversion for biofuels.

The farmers have sown the grain on 27.44 million hectares between October 1 and January 18, as compared to 28.02 million hectares a year ago.

The world's second-biggest wheat producer harvested 74.9 million tonnes of wheat last year, while it consumed 73 million tonnes.

The government had earlier bought 1.8 million tonnes of the grain in 2007 at record high rates. As a result of this, it had abandoned purchases against a tender for 3,30,000 tonnes in December, after it found prices quoted by bidders to be too high.

In 2006, the government ordered imports for the first time in six years and bought a total of 5.5 million tonnes.

UNI SBA PDT AS1812

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