New Delhi: Under attack from the Left and the BJP for importing wheat at high prices, the Centre said on 14 September it could reduce the quantity of imports of the foodgrain in the wake of “better crop” this year.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chavan said the government had initially set a target of importing 50 lakh tonnes of wheat but, “the figure could come down with factoring in of the increased domestic production.”
Wheat production is estimated to be 74.89 million tonnes this year, against 69 million tonnes in last year.
Chavan, while talking to reporters on the sidelines of a CII function, denied that the move to reduce wheat imports was influenced by the possibility of early elections.
“Election is a political process and the move to cut down the import target is not influenced by it,” he said.
The government recently finalized deals to import over 13 lakh tonnes of wheat at $325-389 a tonne. UPA government’s allies, the Left parties, and the main opposition party, BJP, have criticised the decision to import the grain at a rate which is almost double of the minimum support price given to domestic farmers.