India to harvest record wheat, pulses and cotton crop

The higher production would be achieved despite significant crop damage due to drought in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal and the effects of cyclone, unseasonal rains and severe cold wave and frost in several parts of the country

New Delhi: Setting fresh record in wheat and pulses production, India's overall foodgrain output in the 2010-11 crop year is expected to bounce back after a drought year with a growth of 6% at 232.07 million tonnes (MT), reports PTI.

"We are likely to achieve record production of wheat (81.47 MT), pulses (16.51 MT) and cotton (33.9 million bales of 170 kg each) this year," agriculture minister Sharad Pawar told reporters after announcing the second advance estimate of foodgrain production for 2010-11 crop year.

Mr Pawar said foodgrain production is likely to increase to 232.07 MT against 218.11 MT last year. This is only marginally below the record production of 234.47 MT in 2008-09.

Commenting on the bumper production, US think-tank IFPRI's Asia director Ashok Gulati said, "There is no inflation in wheat and rice. Pulses production is up and this year we will not bear the brunt of high prices as we faced in 2009. So some relief will be there in the coming days."

Mr Pawar noted that the higher production would be achieved despite significant crop damage due to drought in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal and the effects of cyclone, unseasonal rains and severe cold wave and frost in several parts of the country.

"It was our desire to reach 4% growth, but there was drought last year. However, we have reached 5.4% growth in GDP (in agri and allied sector) because of efforts of the farming community, extension workers and scientists," the minister said.

In the foodgrain basket, rice output is estimated to rise at 94.01 MT in 2010-11 from 89.09 MT last year while wheat production is likely to touch fresh record at 81.47 MT against 80.8 MT.

As for pulses, it is also seen at record 16.51 MT against 14.66 MT while coarse cereals output is set to increase to 40.08 MT against 33.55 MT, the second estimate data showed.

"This year, performance of farmers is exceptional. Pulses farmers have taken up good crop," Mr Pawar said while attributing bumper crop production to adequate and timely supply of farm inputs and focused intervention through various government schemes.

Among non-food crops, oilseeds production is estimated to rise to 27.84 MT in 2010-11 against 24.88 MT last year and cotton output is likely to touch a record 33.9 million bales, against 24.2 million bales.

Sugarcane output is also expected to increase to 336.69 MT against 292.3 MT in the review period, the second estimate showed.

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Govt spells out measures to retrieve black money

The government also informed the Supreme Court that it has completed negotiations for Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with 10 countries where the money is believed to have been stashed

New Delhi: Black money parked in tax havens abroad will be taxable income under the Direct Taxes Code (DTC) Bill, the Centre told the Supreme Court today, spelling out a host of measures to retrieve it.

The government also informed the apex court that it has completed negotiations for Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with 10 countries where the money is believed to have been stashed, reports PTI.

The ten countries are Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Island, Isle of Man, Cayman Island, British island of Jersey, Monaco, St Kitts and Nevis, Argentina and Marshall Island.

It said Cabinet approval has been granted in relation to eight of these agreements.

"It is submitted that the central government has proposed new provisions for unearthing black money in the DTC Bill by defining taxable assets as inclusive of the deposits in banks located outside India in case of individuals and such bank deposits not recorded in the books of account in case of others," an additional affidavit filed by the ministry of finance said.

The affidavit comes in the wake of searching questions posed by a bench of justices B Sudershan Reddy and  S Nijjar on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani and others, seeking retrieval of black money stashed in banks abroad.

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Strong sales boost M&M Q3 net profit 78% to Rs734.68 crore

The significant growth in the profit, despite the relentless increase in material costs is due to a good volume performance by both vehicles and tractors, tight control on expenses and prudent financial management

New Delhi: Tractor and utility vehicles major Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) on Wednesday reported a splendid 77.59% increase in its net profit for the quarter ended 31 December 2010, at Rs734.68 crore from Rs413.70 crore in the corresponding previous period. Robust demand and a host of cost saving initiatives helped the company achieve the performance, reports PTI.

The total income during the third quarter of this fiscal surged by 36.11% to Rs6,121.09 crore from Rs4,497.12 crore in the year-ago period, the company stated in its filing with the stock exchanges.

"The significant growth in the profit of the company, despite the relentless increase in material costs is due to a good volume performance by both vehicles and tractors, tight control on expenses and prudent financial management resulting in lower interest costs," M&M said.

The company's operating profit margin for the December 2010 quarter was 15.09%, up from 14.90% in the December 2009 quarter.

During the quarter, the company sold 56,211 units of utility vehicles in the domestic market, enjoying 62.2% share in the segment.

The domestic sales of 'Mahindra Swaraj' tractors grew to 55,649 units from 41,074 units in the same quarter last fiscal, the company said.

While vehicle exports jumped by 50.71% to 5,020 units, tractors exports climbed by 10.09% to 3,120 units, it added.

Commenting on the outlook, M&M said, "While the demand for the company's products remains robust, the recent hardening in the prices of commodities and oil causes a degree of concern".

"The measures adopted by the Reserve Bank of India to combat inflation will necessarily result in tighter liquidity and further possibility of interest costs moving upwards."

The company, however, said the overall outlook for the future remains positive.

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