New Delhi: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has promised a substantial hike in minimum price which the government pays to farmers for buying wheat and rice in 2008.
Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, Pawar said the Government fixed the minimum support price for wheat at Rs 850 per quintal on 15March this year when the commodity was traded at Rs743.72 per quintal in the international market.
“Next year also this government will give substantial rise in MSP for wheat and rice,” he said, while defending the MSP for wheat that was lower than the Rs 1100 per quintal price at which India imported wheat saying after adding mandi, baggage and transportation charges the price for domestic wheat came close to Rs1100 per quintal. In comparison, landed price of imported wheat in southern India came to Rs 1200 per quintal.
Imports were resorted as wheat procurements by government agencies were barely sufficient to meet Public Distribution System (PDS) requirement and a buffer was needed to meet emergencies. “It is a question of our food security which cannot be compromised with.”
Pawar said since procument of foodgrains under Minimum Support Price (MSP) operations carried out by Government agencies is open-ended, no targets are fixed. However, based on estimates given by State Food Secretaries, an estimate of 15.15 million tons was fixed for wheat procurement this year.
Against this, only 11.104 million tons of wheat was procured, he said adding the state government support was essential for Food Corporation of India to buy maximum wheat from farmers.