The price situation will ease in the coming days with good prospects of rabi crop coupled with growing availability of sugar and pulses from abroad, says Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who is pained over the attacks on him over the issue.
A veteran of many a political crisis and Minister in charge of Agriculture, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs for the last over five years, he, however, has a word of caution that being an agriculture dependent economy, farmers should get "proper" prices.
Seeking to take the wind out of the opposition attack over high prices of essential commodities, he said in an interview that several non-Congress governments have written to the Centre for enhancement of the Minimum Support Price fixed for paddy, an important ingredient that will reflect in the prices.
But, in good news for the consumer hit hard by the price spiral, he says that prices of pulses are going down steadily and those of sugar are softening.
He said a review of the rabi season showed there would be "very good" crop of wheat and an "improvement" in rice production and their buffer stock is "quite comfortable".
Besides, Pawar said the procurement of paddy by January 20 this year was 193 lakh tonne, slightly less than previous year's 198 lakh tonne.
As regards pulses, Pawar said "fortunately, the trend is downward. Prices are going down, if not very much, but by Rs two to Rs three per kg. We expect that the same trend will continue."
The Agriculture Minister also said that the rabi crop area under pulses was more, and "day by day situation will improve." On sugar, he said futures market was showing that international prices were softening and "this will help us get the sweetener at a lesser price."
In the last few days, the prices have come down from Rs 4,000 per quintal to Rs 3,600 per quintal; he said adding, "I hope it will reflect in retail."
Besides, Pawar said the prices of pulses are high because major pulse supplying countries themselves are facing a shortfall and have enhanced prices. "It has reflected in domestic prices," he said.
He said that MMTC and STC are importing pulses and government is bearing a loss of Rs 50 per kg and total loss is to the tune of Rs 400 crore. Private sector is also importing in a big way.