Geared up to face drought situation,says Centre

As for foodgrains,India is the largest stockist with storage to the tune of 82 mn tonnes: Thomas

Written by Agencies | Chennai | Published: July 27, 2012 4:43:44 pm

The government on Friday said the spectre of drought over a few states and the likelihood of a lower rainfall pattern this year should not be a concern for a “panicky situation” as it is geared up to face the situation with enough stocks of foodgrains and sugar.

Last year the production of both foodgrains and sugar had overshot the estimate leaving the government with adequate resources for the coming years,Union Minister of State (In-charge) for Food K V Thomas said.

“As for foodgrains,the government of India is the largest stockist. FCI (Food Corporation of India) storage as on date is to the tune of 82 million tonnes. What I need for Public Distribution System (PDS) is just 55 million tonnes,” he said in his inaugural address at the third edition of ‘FoodCon 2012’.

The government had stocks of rice for a year and wheat for three years and there was no need to worry though he warned of “shortage” of vegetables,fruits,edible oil and other essential items like pulses. These were being imported.

“With advanced review,we can face the drought. There is no need for a panicky situation,” he said while noting that IMD had forecast a 23 per cent shortage in monsoon.

Parts of Karnataka,Maharashtra and Rajasthan besides some areas in Central India were affected because of the low rainfall and a subsequent drought-like situation,he said.

He,however,noted that the production of both foodgrains and sugar last season had overshot the estimates by a large margin,leaving the “granaries full”.

The record foodgrains production of 245 million tonnes in 2010-11 was likely to be surpassed in the 2011-12 crop year. he said.

An EGOM meeting at New Delhi on Tuesday under Union Food Minister Sharad Pawar will discuss a slew of issues facing the country on the food front including drought-relief package sought by Karnataka,Thomas said.

Underlining his government’s commitment to provide food security,he noted that besides programmes already in existence,the National Food Security Bill had been introduced in the Parliament.

It marked a “paradigm shift” in addressing the food security,from the current welfare approach to a right based one and sought to address food security in a “holistic manner by adopting a life cycle approach”,Thomas said.

A few issues remained between the Centre and state on the Bill he admitted but said it will help the latter in bringing down their transportation costs,especially to those who have targeted rice distribution schemes like in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

On the food wastage aspect,he said the levels for foodgrains had come down from around 25 per cent five years ago to 0.0006 per cent now,but a lot remained to be done for vegetables and fruits where the wastage remained high,he said.

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