December 23, 2016 / 1:34 PM / 8 months ago

TABLE-India's wheat planting rises amid higher likelihood of import

Dec 23 (Reuters) - India's farmers increased planting of
winter crops by more than 6 percent from the same period last
year, with wheat, pulses and rapeseed accounting for the lion's
share of the growth in acreage, government data showed.
    It is highly likely that the increased wheat planting might
not be enough for the Indian government to avoid imports, as
traders and industry experts say the country's stock in the
season starting April is likely to be at the lowest levels in
more than a decade after two successive droughts. 
    Although the area planted with wheat has gone up, output
will depend on a variety of factors, including weather
conditions.
    Lower stocks will force India to import about 6 million
tonnes of wheat in the fiscal years ending March 2017 and March
2018 to curb local prices, which have leapt 40 percent since the
current year began in April 2016, traders and industry experts
said.
    Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said Indian government
agencies will not import wheat, at least in the near term, as
private players ramped up overseas purchases following a rally
in local prices. 
    Higher planting of rapeseed, the main winter oilseed, will
put further pressure on prices. Indian January rapeseed futures
on the National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX)
fell for the eighth straight session on Friday, on expectations
of higher output. 
    The following figures are provisional and in million
hectares. Some numbers have been rounded off.   
 Crop                2016/17  2015/16
 Wheat               27.86    25.93
 Pulses              13.82    12.57
 Cereals             5.06     5.49
 Rapeseed & Mustard  6.82     6.01
 Rice                0.93     1.32
 Total               55.49    52.34
 
 (Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan in New Delhi; Editing by Biju
Dwarakanath)

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