The government on Saturday said it will offload staple food grains from its reserves in the domestic market shortly to tame the surge in prices but is not "eager" to import rice to augment local supply.
"We will offload wheat and rice in the open market. The process may start in the next 8-10 days," Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters here.
The Centre had decided to sell 15 lakh tonnes of wheat and five lakh tonnes of rice in the open market to increase availability and cool prices. Rice prices have already gone up by about 25 per cent in the last five months while wheat rates have shot up by about 20 per cent since September.
Asked about rice imports, he said: "By and large, we are not very eager to import" as procurement by the government has improved. Yesterday, an Empowered Group of Ministers on food decided against importing rice for the time being.
The minister noted that procurement is higher in Haryana and Punjab than last year. He added that the Uttar Pradesh government has assured that the state would also contribute well to the central pool. "In UP, the price of rice has come down below the MSP and there has been demand from farmers that we should start procurement," Pawar said.
The minister ruled out any reduction in the price at which the government plans to offload wheat to bulk consumers, such as flour millers and biscuit manufacturers.