India has adequate rice, wheat stocks, says government

September 26th, 2008 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) Amid fears of accelerating food crisis across the world, India Friday said it is comfortably placed with nearly 28 million tonnes of rice stock.In a statement, the government said 27.9 million tonnes of rice was procured as of Sep 24 during the kharif marketing season (KMS) of 2007-08, as against 25.1 million tonnes last year.

“It is an increase of 11.14 percent over the previous year,” said the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution in the statement.

Claiming the government was taking steps to maintain adequate availability of food grains, edible oils and sugar to check price rise, the ministry estimated there would be nearly six million tonnes of wheat stock by April next year.

“It is estimated that the stock of wheat as of April 1, 2009 will be 6.04 million tonnes as compared to the buffer norms of four million tonnes. The buffer stock of rice will be 6.45 million tonnes as of October 1 this year as against the buffer norm of 5.2 million tonnes,” it said.

Keeping a buffer stock of food grains in the central pool is an essential element of India’s national food policy. It ensures inter-seasonal stability to supply and prices, and helps the government tide over unexpected crop failures and natural disasters.

The estimated production of rice in 2007-08 season stood at 96.43 million tonnes. The government has targeted a production of 129 million tonnes by 2011-12.

The ministry said the ban on non-basmati rice export with effect from April 1 this year along with fixing minimum export price (MEP) for basmati at $1,200 per tonne and export duty of Rs.8,000 per tonne has increased availability of rice and eased its price hike.

The ministry said while 2.75 million tonnes of non-basmati rice was exported between April 16 and September 2007, only 0.59 million tonnes was exported in the corresponding period in 2008-09.

It said the government has also released 1.2 million tonnes of non-levy sugar quota for September this year to meet festive season demand.

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