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India stands tall in gloomy world wheat scenario

Backed by good monsoon, India, the second largest producer of wheat in the world, is tipped to harvest a record 84.27 million tonnes of wheat in 2011, according to the agriculture ministry's third estimates

New Delhi: While other leading wheat producing countries like China and the US are witnessing a decline in output, India has stood as an exception with an estimated record production of 84.27 million tonnes of the staple foodgrain this year, reports PTI.

Except for India, all the leading wheat growing countries like China, Russia, US, Canada and Australia are witnessing a downturn.

"India is gaining internationally in the wheat production," SS Singh, project director of Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR) told PTI today. DWR is a Karnal-based institute affiliated to the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Backed by good monsoon, India, the second largest producer of wheat in the world, is tipped to harvest a record 84.27 million tonnes of wheat in 2011, according to the agriculture ministry's third estimates.

But, the international scenario is not encouraging. China, the leading wheat producer in the world, is tipped to register a 2% fall at 113 million tonnes in wheat production in 2011 compared to an year ago period. Wheat output of China was 115.1 million tonnes in 2010.

Likewise, US, Russia, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Iran are reported to see a drop in wheat cultivation this year, according to available data. While US, the third largest wheat producer of the world is expected to see a 3.5% decline in production of the staple crop in 2011 as compared to last year, the same in Australia is tipped to be 2.3% down during the period, the data suggests.

Mr Singh said reports reveal that drop in wheat production internationally is mainly due to spread of yellow rust disease and harsh climate. Reports reveal that prolonged snowfall season in China damaged the staple food crop in that country, he added.

But, amid gloomy world scenario in wheat production, India stands as an exception. Wheat output in India was 80.7 million tonnes in 2009 which rose to 80.8 million tonnes in 2010. The country is set to harvest a record 84.27 million tonnes of chief rabi produce in 2011.

Mr Singh said due to timely measures initiated by the government the rust disease, which is among oldest disease known to man, had no impact in India. Besides, favourable weather is helping in bumper harvest of the crop, he added.

Owing to bumper wheat cultivation this year, suggestions are pouring from a section of the government as well traders that the country should lift ban on wheat export imposed in 2007 to cash in on this opportunity.

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Indian Oil Corporation losing Rs297 crore every day

Indian Oil Corporation is losing Rs297 crore per day on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene at government-controlled rates

State-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is losing Rs297 crore per day on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene at government-controlled rates, a company official said.

"We are losing Rs18.11 per litre on diesel, Rs28.33 a litre on kerosene and Rs315.86 per 14.2-kg domestic LPG cylinder," he said. IOC loses Rs196 crore everyday on selling diesel below its imported cost, Rs53 crore on kerosene and Rs48 crore on domestic LPG.

Diesel prices were last revised in June last year when crude oil was $71-72 per barrel. It is trading at $110 a barrel now. Domestic LPG and kerosene rates too were revised last in June 2010.

The government has not allowed oil companies to raise fuel prices in line with imported cost to keep inflation under check.

"Retail selling price of diesel in Delhi should have been Rs55.86 a litre as against Rs37.75 per litre currently," the official said.

IOC along with public sector firms Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum are projected to lose Rs1,77,562 crore in revenues on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene below their imported cost in 2011-12 fiscal.

The revenue loss, termed as under-recovery by oil firms, will be the highest-ever, even more than what they lost in 2008-09 when crude oil touched an all-time high of $147 per barrel.

In addition, they lose about Rs4.50 per litre on petrol, whose rates have not moved in tandem with the imported cost despite its pricing being freed from the government control in June last year.

"Losses on petrol are not included in the under-recovery figures for 2011-12 as it is a decontrolled commodity," the official said.

The basket of crude oil India buys had averaged $83.57 per barrel in 2008-09 and calculations for the next fiscal have been done at the prevailing rates of around $110 a barrel.

"The average price of Indian basket of crude oil last fiscal was $85.09 per barrel, higher than the 2008-09 average when the government had cut customs and excise duty on crude oil and products to check the impact of rising international rates on domestic markets," the official said.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has not agreed to cut customs and excise duty on crude and product this time to protect his projected fiscal deficit.

"The situation in the current 2011-12 fiscal will be worse, the three PSU oil marketing companies are losing Rs540 crore per day on diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene sales," the official said.

On Thursday, IOC was trading 0.60% lower at Rs331.15 in the afternoon trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

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