India does not need to import rice and wheat even though drought and flood have damaged summer-sown crops, as the country has adequate reserves, Minister of State for Agriculture K V Thomas said in New Delhi on Wednesday.
However, India may continue with the purchase of pulses from overseas to bridge its supply shortfall of about 3-4 million tonnes, he said on the sidelines of a seminar.
Asked if the country would need to import food grains, Thomas said, "As of now, no. We have enough stocks of rice and wheat. In pulses, as usual, we would have some problems."
According to official data, India has piled up rice and wheat reserves of over 47 million tonnes as of August-end, while procurement by government agencies has hit a fresh record of 58.39 million tonnes.
Nevertheless, apprehensions about the fate of paddy and pulse crops have set the prices spiralling. While rice prices have gone up by about 25 per cent in the last four months for preferred varieties, those of pulses, especially tur, have surged by 50 per cent to as high as Rs 90 a kg.
After witnessing bumper production of both rice and wheat in successive years (2007-08 and 2008-09), the country was in for a shock as drought in about half its areas affected the sowing of paddy adversely and the acreage was down by over six million hectares.