Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday said worst on food inflation front is over and the prices have started coming down, and would ease further in the coming weeks.
"By and large, prices are showing declining trend over the last three months...I am confident that the worst is over. Indian consumers and farmers should look forward for better times in future," Pawar told reporters at the Indian Women's Press Corps in New Delhi.
Food inflation on Thursday increased by 0.40 to 16.44 per cent for the week ended May 1.
"I expect inflation based on Consumer Price Index - Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) to decline rapidly as the price of the food items is now declining," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said on Wednesday.
Pawar also admitted that it was a big challenge to balance the interest of farmers and consumers.
"It has always been my interest to balance the interest of farmers and those of consumers. I don't have hesitation to admit that it is an extremely challenging task," he said.
Explaining the reasons behind the price rise, the minister noted that steep hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of foodgrains has driven prices to some extent.
Besides, the opening of the economy and integration with the global market also has direct and indirect impact on prices of essential commodities, he added.
When asked about the progress in the proposed Food Security Bill, Pawar said, "The Planning Commission has been empowered to give viable framework for the Act and its suggestion will soon be discussed in the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM)."
"After we get the exact number of families to be covered under the Act, it will take 8-10 months to implement," the minister said, adding that the government would reform the Publish Distribution System and ensure food security.
Pawar also ruled out that the there is a delay in implementation of the proposed Food Law because of likely rise in food subsidy.
"My worry is about the availability of foodgrains and not how much it will cost to the exchequer," he said, noting that selection of number of BPL families is crucial for enacting the proposed law.
On rising number of farmers' suicide in the country, Pawar said the percentage of farmers in the total number of suicides is consistent in the last 40-50 years.
"Suicides are not restricted to one section of the society. If you study the report of crimes published by the Home Ministry, there is a mention that about 1.50 lakh farmers have committed suicide. And the percentage of farmers in total number of suicides is consistent in last 40-50 years," he said.