New Delhi: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said government should buy foodgrains from the open market for distribution under the social welfare schemes.
“If any government wants to implement the scheme (PDS), it should provide money from the state revenue to purchase foodgrains from open market,” Pawar said at a two-day FICCI conference on agriculture marketing here.
Concessions that the government wants to extend to the economically weaker section of the society should be factored into the budget, he said.
The minister also expressed reservations over fixing the minimum support price for procuring foodgrains from the farmers to fulfil government’s social responsibilities.
“If as a food minister I have to take responsibility to provide foodgrains at a reasonable rate for PDS, certainly there is no objection to implement the scheme. But that should not be at the cost of farmers,” he said.
The minister pointed out that a few years ago, the farmers had no choice but to sell their produce to the designated agency. “For a number of years, our policy was not to allow anybody except Food Corporation of India to purchase foodgrains, especially wheat and rice, and compel the farmer to sell to FCI, irrespective of whether the price is convenient to them or not. There was no choice before him,” he said.