Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said his ministry is not pushing for foodgrains export in view of the proposed National Food Security Bill.
His remarks comes days after Food Minister K V Thomas had said that his ministry was “not averse” to limited exports of wheat and rice considering record foodgrains output and lack of storage space.
Export of wheat and non-basmati rice has been banned since February 2007, and April 2008, respectively.
“We are not in a position to push for export of foodgrains because we are waiting for the proposed National Food Security Bill, which is likely to come up in Parliament,” Mr. Pawar told reporters when asked about his views on the export policy of foodgrains.
The Food Ministry has moved a proposal to export three million tonne of wheat and non-basmati rice. The proposal is likely to be discussed at the meeting of an empowered group of ministries (EGOM) on July 11.
Mr. Pawar further said the policy on export of foodgrains will hinge on the quantum and price of foodgrains that would be provided under the Food Bill.
The draft National Food Security Bill, which aims to give a legal right over subsidised foodgrains to the poor, would also be discussed at the forthcoming EGOM meeting.
The Food Ministry has suggested to cover 75 per cent of the country’s population under the proposed bill.
Foodgrains demand is estimated at 65 million tonnes.
Currently, the government godowns are overflowing with over 65 million tonnes of foodgrains, while the storage capacity is only 62.23 million tonnes.
Asked if there could be any impact of below normal monsoon on agricultural output, Mr. Pawar said it is too early to say as sowing operations in the Kharif season continue till third week of August.
However, there would not be any problem in farm output if rains are good in July, he said, adding that monsoon rains in June were up by 11 per cent in the country barring certain parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
The Agriculture Ministry has pegged total foodgrains output at 245 million tonnes for the 2011-12 crop year, as against 235.88 million tonnes last year.