8 June:Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar has said the restrictions imposed on export of major foodgrain are not permanent and the government could lift the ban once the supply situation improves.
"I am confident that prices will go down and in such a situation we don’t want to continue with these types of restrictions," Pawar told a news agency when asked about the demand being raised by world leaders on lifting export ban.
"Generally we are also not very much against that what they are saying. We have taken certain decisions where there is a tremendous shortage like pulses or edible oil in India. But whenever we will improve production, we don’t want to continue that," he added.
The government has banned export of various commodities like wheat, non-basmati rice, pulses and imposed duty on export of basmati rice in a bid to check inflation which has increased to 45-month high of 8.24 per cent.
Though Pawar broadly agreed to the suggestions of the world leaders including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to lift export ban, but pointed out that India had imposed the restrictions to protect the poor people in the country.
"Even today quite a bit of population live below poverty line and we have to protect the interest of vulnerable section of society and for that purpose we have to keep the availability in the open market and also with the government. In such situation, we have to take certain decisions but these decisions are not on permanent basis," he added.
Pawar represented India at Rome Conference, organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), to chalk out a strategy to deal with the soaring commodity prices and minimise the impact of poor people of the world.
Pawar said ultimately everybody would have to accept the global market concept and "whatever restrictions are there these are temporary. These are not long term or permanent basis restrictions."
The Minister attributed the ongoing global food crisis to the decision of the major developed countries to divert substantial area of their wheat crop to the corn for production of ethanol and high crude oil prices.
"That is the main problem which has ultimately created this situation", he added.Referring to the Indian experience, Pawar said, the government has successfully managed the price level as compared to other countries.
"Wheat prices internationally has gone up by 100 per cent as against 7 to 8 per cent in India and rice prices by 140 per cent internationally as against 17-18 per cent. That shows that our efforts are definitely useful and beneficial for our own population", Pawar said.
As regards use of bio-fuels, he said, they are important, but they should be produced from agriculture waste and residues and not by diverting cultivable land which is used for production of food grains.
"Overwhelming majority (at the conference) was of the view that agriculture waste and residues is the only alternative through which one could produce bio-fuel. By and large there was unanimity on this particular subject," Pawar said.
The ultimately solution to the problem of current food prices is to improve production and productivity, he said adding, "India has taken initiative in all these areas two years back… Our food security mission is about increasing productivity."
Pawar stressed India was witnessing the results of food security mission in terms of higher farm output.
"In fact this is the first year of the impact of result of our food security mission… we have the highest agriculture production, highest wheat production and highest wheat procurement," he said.
When asked whether government took the right decision to import wheat at high prices though it generated lot of political controversy, Pawar said, "that time availability with the government was not there."
He added, "We had to see that something is available in the public distribution system. And if nothing is there or insufficient stock is there, then we have no choice but to import."
Moreover, Pawar said, the government could not have left the sizable vulnerable sections at the mercy of those who exploit the situation of shortage.
Simultaneously, Pawar said, "we have taken many decisions and have started getting fruits of those decisions. That is the reason this year question doesn’t arise of importing wheat."
Talking about the Rome Conference on food security, the Minister said, "This is one of the most successful conferences which I have seen internationally. More than 180 countries including 40 heads of the states participated in the meeting."
Pawar further said, "The issues raised by most of the leaders are quite similar to what we are thinking" though with some exceptions. The Minister hoped that deliberations of the conference would help in enhancing global food production and bringing down the soaring prices.
"This conference will be give some definite direction to global leaders", he added.Courtsey : DD NEWS