The government has enough reserves of wheat and rice due to the bumper harvest last year and is not depending on imports to feed its people in the grip of a severe drought, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said in New Delhi on Monday.
"Though we are facing a serious drought but because of the record production last year and record procurement of wheat and rice, our position of stock is much better and we are not dependent on import, particularly in wheat and rice,"
Pawar said in the Capital at an India Today conclave.
As on August end, the government stocks had over 47 million tonnes of wheat and rice, sufficient to feed the
entire population for at least two-and-a-half months.
The country is in the throes of a severe drought with 299 of 600-plus districts under its grip and there are concerns about a fall in acreage of summer-sown crops, mainly paddy, which is down by a whopping 62 lakh hectares.
However, the minister is not in favour of putting restrictions on cross-border trade.
"We have to open the gates of the country. If we require, we should import; if we require, we should export. There should not be any restriction. If the farmer is getting money in the international market, we should allow him," he said.
Separately, the minister said he prefers contract to corporate farming.
In contract farming, a farmer offers land to firms on lease while he continues to remain the owner of it whereas in
corporate farming the companies actually buy land.