Stating that the Government policies should not reflect a ``knee jerk reaction’’, Commerce Secretary, Rahul Khullar on Wednesday said pressure on agriculture commodity prices is likely to stay for some time to come.
An Empowered Group of Ministries (EGOM) headed by Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee is scheduled to review the ban on export of wheat and non-basmati rice on July 11.
The Food Distribution and Consumer Affairs Ministry has moved a proposal to export 2 million tonne of wheat and 1 million tonnes non-basmati rice. Export of wheat and non-basmati rice has been banned since February 2007 and April 2008, respectively in the backdrop of high food inflation. ``My own sense is that the pressure on agriculture prices is going to continue. I also think that domestically the pressure on prices is going to continue even more,’’ Mr. Khullar remarked while addressing a seminar on ``Prospects of India’s agriculture export in 2025: Opportunities, challenges and roadmap’’ organised by the Centre for WTO Studies here.
Asked about lifting the ban on wheat and non-basmati rice exports, he said the issue would be discussed next week. Food inflation fell to a one-and-a-half month low of 7.78 per cent for the week ended June 18.
“Traditional agriculture has suffered because of the production constraints, which in turn is holding our agriculture exports. Agriculture has to be competitive and it’s important that what you are producing”. Lack of research and development, inadequate infrastructure, lack of commercial agriculture, small land holdings, etc serve as a constraint and there is a strong case for agriculture reforms,’’ he remarked.
Mr. Khullar said global trade in agriculture is most distressed and pressure is likely to stay on agriculture commodity prices. The inaugural function was also attended by Rajeev Kher, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and J.S Deepak, Joint Secretary.
Speakers of the seminar noted that, in recent past, various issues related to Indian agriculture have been debated, especially, the impact of economic reforms, trade liberalisation and commitments under World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Indian agriculture.