Food export ban to be lifted if supplies improve: Pawar

Food export ban to be lifted if supplies improve: Pawar
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First Published: Sun, Jun 08 2008. 12 37 PM IST
Rome: 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 PTI 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 move to check inflation which has increased to 45-month high of 8.24%.
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.
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.
He noted that 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, he said that the government had successfully managed the price level as compared to other countries.
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.
Wheat imports
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.”
“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,” he added.
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First Published: Sun, Jun 08 2008. 12 37 PM IST