Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pawar Rules Out rice imports

The government on Wednesday ruled out importing rice this year, saying it had comfortable stock position even after factoring strategic reserve requirements.

"Our stock position is better, (and) over and above the buffer norms and strategic reserves," Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said, discounting the need for imports although rice production is expected to dip by 13 MT this year.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

According to the buffer norms, the Centre should have 118 lakh tonnes of rice as on January one every year. The norms for the minimumstock that the government has to maintain are fixed on a quarterly basis.

According to government sources, the Centre had 229 lakh tonnes of rice as on December one, 2009.

Pawar also said Food Corporation of India (FCI) has sought permission from Uttar Pradesh government to allow it to purchase paddy from the state as there was a complaint that farmers are selling their paddy below the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,000 a quintal (including Rs 50 bonus).

"I am getting complaints that prices are below the MSP. We have to gear up FCI machinery, for which we have requested the state government to allow us to purchase," he said.

He also pointed out that the current low market price of paddy in UP is because "there is no purchasing machinery".