Government concern over food price rise: Pawar

November 4th, 2009 - 4:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) Expressing concern over the inflation in prices of food articles in the country, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar Wednesday said the government has taken several steps to control the increases in prices of essential commodities.
“The year 2008-09 witnessed a spurt in the prices of food articles. However, the overall availability of essential commodities has generally remained satisfactory,” Pawar told the Economic Editors’ Conference here.

“Inflation in food article is a matter of concern,” the minister said.

According to the data released by the government Tuesday, production of foodgrain was hit by drought and floods in many parts of the country.

Rice was the worst hit. Rice production is estimated to reduce by 15 million tonnes to 69.45 million tonnes in the kharif (summer) harvest.

Pawar said the government’s main concern was to ensure the availability of foodgrains for the public distribution system “so that the impact of inflation on common man is minimised”.

“The increase in foodgrain production has been matched by increased procurement for the central pool,” the minister said.

Wheat procurement in 2008-09 and 2009-10 was 226.89 lakh tonnes and 253.81 lakh tonnes respectively.

“As a result of record procurement during the last two years, the central pool stock of wheat as on Oct 1 this year was 284.57 lakhs,” Pawar said and added that there was increase in rice procurement also.

“Government has a stock 153.49 lakh tonnes of rice in the central pool,” he said.

The minister said production of an estimated 8.5 million tonnes of foodgrain and 1.5 million tonnes of oilseeds in the rabi season could compensate for the loss of foodgrain output during the kharif season due to the drought. The minister expressed hope that this target could be achieved.

“Improved soil moisture due to late monsoon rains has improved the prospect of rabi (winter) crops throughout the country,” he said.

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