Restrictions on wheat may go

From a massive shortage, it’s now a problem of plenty. “Too much (wheat) stock is a problem for this country today,” Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told Rajya Sabha, reports Satyen Mohapatra.
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Updated on Feb 21, 2009 02:55 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | BySatyen Mohapatra, New Delhi

From a massive shortage, it’s now a problem of plenty. “Too much (wheat) stock is a problem for this country today,” Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told Rajya Sabha on Friday.

He said that against the biffer norm of 40 lakh tones per year, the buffer stock this year is around 130 lakh tonnes. “In fact, the serious problem I am facing is what to do with this, how to dispose of it,” he added.

The excess stock has prompted the government to consider removing within the next 10 days the restrictions imposed on wheat two years ago, when the country was facing a shortage. The government plans to take a final decision on this, he said, responding to supplementaries in the House.

“The restrictions were such that we had practically opened import without any duty, stopped export of wheat products and introduced stock limits to stop hoarding,” he pointed out.

“Shortage is not at all a problem so far as wheat is concerned. Generally, our reqirement for public distribution is about 110 to 120 lakh tonnes per year. Our procurement is 226 lakh tones,” Pawar said.

Besides the problem of too much stock, the minister said, the latest report of the second advanced crop of wheat is also quite comfortable. It is somewhat close to last year, he added.

Pawar said all the wheat producing states have reported that “we should be ready to procure more than last year”.

Last year’s procurement was one of the highest in the last 60 years and Pawar said this year’s procurement would probably top it.

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