The government on Monday admitted a mismatch between wheat procurement and storage and said efforts were on to ease pressure on go-downs by encouraging exports and providing foodgrain to MNREGA workers as part of wages.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s brief statement on farmers’ plight in the Lok Sabha during the zero hour came in response to vociferous protests by many political parties on the plight of farmers due to lack of storage for record production of foodgrains.
Acknowledging there had been a record production of rice and wheat, he said earlier 30-40% of the total production of food-grain used to be purchased by the government and the rest taken care of by the market.
But due to high minimum support price in last 2-3 years, Mukherjee said procurement had become the primary responsibility of the Centre and state governments and their agencies. On shortage of jute bags, he said the government was trying to import them to augment their availability even as two lakh MT of storage capacity had been added.
Earlier, Sharad Yadav of the JD-U raised the issue and slammed the government for doing little for farmers. While on one hand wheat was lying in the open due to paucity of stores, on the other there were people who had no food to eat, he said.
Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj raised the issue of poor supply of jute bags to Madhya Pradesh.
The house witnessed ruckus after members of NDA, Left, SP, BSP and RJD protested against the government, leading to 10-minute adjournment. During adjournment, LK Advani, Sharad Yadav and Rewati Raman Singh were seen discussing the issue with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee.