Government going all out to check price rise: Pawar

April 15th, 2008 - 12:08 am ICT by admin  

Nagpur, April 14 (IANS) The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will do all it can to contain the food grains price rise, including buying stocks from the domestic and international market and providing it to the poor at affordable rates, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said Monday. “The government is seized of the grave matter and constantly examining ways and means to provide relief to the poorer sections and middle class of the society,” Pawar said at a meet-the-press programme organized by the Nagpur Union of Working Journalists (NUWJ).

Reiterating his position that the present inflation was a part of the global phenomena, Pawar pointed out that the prices of wheat and rice in the country are still lowest in the world.

“The United States is diverting large chunks of wheat producing land towards the production of maize for bio-fuel, and another major wheat producer Australia is facing drought for two years leading to shortages and consequent price rise and restricting exports,” he said.

The other factor, Pawar said, was the freedom given to farmers to grow what they like and sell their food-grain produce to the traders who would pay them more with the government playing the role of a buyer competing with private traders.

“The wheat production in the country has been steadily going up over the last few years but the government does not have enough stocks,” Pawar said, adding that the government would not flinch from procuring more food-grains even if it meant paying more for it and making it available at affordable rates through the public distribution system.

Pointing out that the minimum support price (MSP) for wheat - Rs.1,000 per quintal - is the highest so far that the government is paying, Pawar said the government has to additionally pay 12.5 percent ‘mandi’ charges and spend a lot on other operations like weighing, packing and transport.

“The rise in demand for food-grains vis-

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