Food prices falling, to dip further - Pawar

Vendors arrange vegetables on their carts at a wholesale vegetable market in Chandigarh in this November 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Ajay Verma

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Food prices in India, which rose an annual 18 percent in January, have started falling and will dip further next month, Farm Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on Wednesday.

The government’s confidence stems from the prospects of a near-record wheat harvest and some decline in local sugar prices after forcing large consumers to reduce their stocks.

But the government will not restrain large sugar firms from buying sugar from the domestic market, Pawar said.

A sharp fall in sugar output in India, the world’s biggest consumer, helped New York raw sugar futures rise to the highest in nearly three decades.

Pawar said India’s wheat harvest would exceed last year’s record 80.6 million tonnes, giving a slightly higher forecast than last week’s formal government estimate of 80.28 million tonnes.

India’s headline inflation in January accelerated to 8.56 percent, the highest in 14 months, putting pressure on the government to act quickly against rising prices.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Wednesday that the government’s measures to tame rising inflation would take some time to make an impact.

(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; editing by Malini Menon)

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