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India - Weather playing spoilsport with crops
India News, April 24, 2004
Abnormally high temperatures followed by hailstorms in parts of north and central India are playing spoilsport with crops, with wheat production down by around three million tonnes, says a top official.

"We suffered from abnormally high temperatures in the last week of February and first two weeks of March. This has damaged crops in some parts of central and north India, where the temperature was five degrees Celsius higher than normal," said Agriculture Secretary Radha Singh.

"We will be losing about three million tonnes of rabi (winter) wheat crop, with production down from an earlier estimate of 76 million tonnes to 73 million tonnes," Singh told IANS.

Due to an early summer and higher temperatures this year, harvesting started early this year, she added.

Harvesting of wheat has already been completed in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka, while in Madhya Pradesh it is nearing completion.

In western Rajasthan, harvesting of wheat is almost complete except in a few areas. In West Bengal, Punjab and Haryana, 50 to 65 percent of the area has been harvested.

In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, 25 to 30 percent of wheat has been harvested.

Overall, buoyed by a bountiful monsoon in fiscal 2003-04 following the most severe drought in a decade, India's preliminary estimate is of a record grain production of over 220 million tonnes.

The weather has, however, wreaked some damage with high temperatures at a time that the crop ripens, shrivelling grains or hastening the drying process. The hailstorms this week, while bringing down the temperature, have also inflicted some damage.

"In Meham in Rohtak district of Haryana, four to five percent loss in wheat production is likely due to hailstorms," the agriculture ministry stated.

Harvesting of other rabi crop, including pulses, coarse grains and oilseeds is also in progress. India is expecting a record production of both oilseeds and pulses.
MGR Archive 26.4.2004
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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