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Price Trends
Bullet Cereals: The WPI of Cereals declined by one per cent during 2003-04 as against the increase of 4.5% in the same period a year ago. Among the individual items, the WPI of wheat rose by 4.9% while that of rice declined by 2.4%. The production of cereals for 2003-04 is estimated to be higher at 195.89 million tonnes as compared to 163.05 million tonnes in 2002-03. In view of the estimated higher production and adequate buffer stocks, the prices of these items may continue to be satisfactory in the coming period. The off-take of rice and wheat for public distribution system (including various welfare schemes) during 2003-04 was 479.30 lakh tonnes as compared to 496.35 lakh tonnes in 2002-03.

Bullet Pulses:
The production of pulses during 2003-04 was estimated to be much higher at 14.89 million tonnes as against 11.14 million tonnes in 2002-03. The gap in the demand and availability of the commodity was met to some extent by way of imports. However, due to decline in the availability in the international markets, import of pulses for the period of April 2003-January 2004 was lower at 14.99 lakh tonnes as compared to 17.77 lakh tonnes in the corresponding period last year. In terms of wholesale price index numbers, the sub-group of pulses recorded a negative growth of 1% in 2003-04 as compared to the decline of 1.1 per cent in 2002-03. However, among individual pulses, the WPI of arhar and masur increased by 7.1% and 15.6% respectively.

Bullet Edible Oils:
Prices of edible oils recorded a substantial increase during 2003-04 mainly due to a significant fall in the production of oil seeds in 2002-03, high international prices, high import duty, etc. During the period 2003-04, the WPI of edible oils, as a sub-group exhibited an increase of 9.3% as against a sharp hike of 25.7% in 2002-03. The price indices of all major edible oils have increased in the range of 6.3 per cent (vanaspati) to 26.3 per cent (coconut oil) during 2003-04 except a decline of 10.4% in groundnut oil. However, during 2003-04, production of edible oilseeds has been estimated to be at a higher level of 250.08 lakh tonnes as compared to 150.58 lakh tonnes in 2002-03 and 206.62 lakh tonnes in 2001-02. Imports of edible oil during April 2003-January 2004 were 45.37 lakh tonnes as compared to 36.71 lakh tonnes during the corresponding period last year.

Bullet Sugar:
Sugar prices exhibited a more or less steady trend during the year 2003-04 barring some variation in the third and fourth quarter. Prices of sugar exhibited an increase during the third and fourth quarter of 2003-04 due to increased demand coupled with anticipated fall in production of sugarcane in the coming sugar season. In terms of WPI, the prices of sugar rose by 17% during 2003-04 as compared to the decline of 14.7% during the identical period in 2002-03. In order to check the rising trend in prices, additional quantities of free sale sugar were released in February and March 2004. The free sale sugar and levy sugar quota for April-June 2004 quarter were also increased substantially, as a result of which sugar prices have remained steady since the third week of April 2004. The production of sugar for the sugar season 2002-03 (October -September) was 20.10 million tonnes as compared to 18.10 million tonnes a year ago. The production during the season 2003-04 is estimated to be 14.5 million tonnes. The stock of sugar at the end of 2002-03 seasons was at 10.89 million tonnes as against 11.38 million tonnes for the corresponding period last year.

Bullet Vegetables: Vegetable prices are subjected to variations depending on the availability and seasonal factors. The Government has kept a close watch on the prices and availability of vegetables especially onion and potato. The increase in the prices of onion observed during the third quarter of 2003-04, due to unseasonal rains in the producing areas resulting in delayed harvesting of the crop, have softened in the subsequent quarter with the arrival of fresh rabi crop in large quantities. Onion prices are now showing a steady decline at most of the centres. The WPI of vegetables as a sub-group has observed an increase of 6.3 per cent during 2003-04 as against the decline of 13.6% during the corresponding period a year ago. During this period the WPI of potato declined by 3.3 per cent while that of onion increased by 57.7% mainly due to seasonal fluctuations in the availability. The production of onion for 2002-03 was at 5.44 million tonnes and for 2003-04, it is likely to be around 5.46 million tonnes. During the year 2003-04, the total exports of onion from the country were 8.26 lakh tonnes. The canalisation of exports through NAFED and other State agencies and periodical review of availability continues.

BulletTea: Tea production is estimated to be 850.49 million kg during 2003-04 compared to 837.60 million kg in 2002-03. During 2003-04, the prices and availability of tea in the country remained satisfactory. The WPI of tea declined by 8.7% as against the increase of 23.2% during the last year. At the retail level the prices indicated a steady trend.

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