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'Increase milk, vegetables production to curb food inflation'

business Updated: Oct 30, 2011 20:36 IST

IANS
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Food minister KV Thomas said on Sunday the production of milk, meat, poultry and vegetables needs to be increased as their changing consumption patterns over the past few years was contributing to food inflation.

“Consumption pattern of milk, meat and poultry and vegetables is changing as compared to previous years,” Thomas told IANS.

The food minister clarified his Oct 28 statement that “people's changing food habits were contributing to food inflation” meant that consumption patterns of items like “milk, meat and poultry and vegetables” were changing.

“Production of these items needs to be increased,” said Thomas.

He said that there is no inflation in foodgrain like wheat and rice, which were staple food items. Sugar too is under control since last year owing to improved production, said Thomas.

Food inflation touched 11.43% on Thursday, raising concerns in the government. Food inflation was 7.5% in 2006-07 and had increased to 14% in 2010-11.

A concerned United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi discussed the issue with Thomas on Saturday.

Stating that fluctuation in high prices of essential items was a concern, the food minister expressed hope it will stabilise soon.

Thomas had earlier said that hike in the minimum support prices (MSPs) over the past many years also contributed to food inflation.

But this, he said, was unavoidable as the farmers have to be given better prices for their produce.

“MSP hikes impact the market prices of foodgrains,” said Thomas.

The government recently hiked MSP for the rabi 2011-12 crop to expand the area under cultivation.

The minister also pointed out that subsidised foodgrain was being provided to poor people through the public distribution system.