Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said the country had enough foodgrain stocks to tide over the current drought in 278 farming districts —nearly half of India.
“We had record production and procurement of foodgrains in both 2007-08 and 2008-09. We have adequate food stocks and there is no cause for concern or fear of shortages of food grains in the country as a whole,” he said at a conference of state ministers of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
India exceeded its foodgrain production target for 2008-09, with both rice and wheat leading the surge in farm output.
The government’s quarterly projections of foodgrains production, was 233 million tonnes for 2008-09, while actual output was slightly higher at 233.88 million tonnes.
The government bought a record 33 million tonnes rice and over 25 million tonnes of wheat from farmers this season.
Singh said monsoon revival would save further crop loss. “The rains over the past week augur well for kharif crop and have brought cheer to large number of our farmers.”
India now aims to make up for a significant dent in kharif or summer-sown rice, due to drought, by producing 84 million tonnes of rabi or winter-sown wheat, 3 million tonnes more than it did last season.
But as a word of caution, Singh said utmost care ought to be taken to deal with scarcity of fodder and drinking water, as most areas of the country would probably still have deficient rainfall.
The Prime Minister also called for redoubling efforts to mitigate rural distress arising from the after effects of drought.