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India hopes to harvest at least 93 mln T wheat despite rains - minister

India's Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh gestures after his interview with Reuters at his office in New Delhi March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India expects to harvest at least 92 million tonnes of wheat this year despite rains and hail pummelling the crop, the farm minister said on Saturday, almost in line with the previous government forecast.

“The recent untimely rains and hailstorms in some parts of the country have caused some damage but, as per the present assessment, production of wheat in the country will still be around 92-93 million tonnes,” Radha Mohan Singh said in a statement.

In February the farm ministry forecast India’s 2016 wheat output at 93.82 million tonnes, lower than a target of 94.75 million tonnes, but higher than the previous year’s production of 86.53 million tonnes.

On Friday, industry body ASSOCHAM forecast at least a 14 percent drop in output after showers and ice pellets hit the crop this month.

Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Toby Chopra