Kerala will be allotted extra rice and sugar during Onam and Ramzan, Union Minister of State for Food and Agriculture K.V. Thomas said here on Friday.

He was speaking after inaugurating a five-day National Livestock Show and Food Festival at the Kanakakkunnu Palace.

The details of the allotment will only be announced, as is appropriate, in Parliament. Anyhow, the State will see changes in its food grain allocation in six months when the new Food Security Bill becomes law. Then, the number of families in the BPL category will go past the eight-crore mark. Once the Bill is passed, the State will get rice and wheat at Rs.3 a kg, Mr. Thomas said.

APL rice

Already, the Central government has okayed the allocation of APL rice to the State at Rs.11.85 a kg, against the prevailing market price of Rs.21.

During a recent meeting of Food Secretaries, the Secretary from the State had asked that the State be allocated more rice and sugar for Onam. The Centre had responded favourably.

“Thanks to bumper crops this year, there is a problem with storage of grains in the godowns of the Food Corporation of India. State governments should take the initiative to enhance the storage capacity of godowns. The Centre is ready to cooperate with any such initiative,” the Union Minister said.

The Centre has decided to adopt Chinese technology for setting up modern storehouses for grains. One such proposal relates to the godown of the Central Warehousing Corporation at Kuttanad, he pointed out.

During the last four years, the Centre had readily sanctioned the schemes formulated by the department headed by Minister for Food and Civil Supplies C. Divakaran.

“This is because the department has been meticulous in executing such projects in a time-bound manner and furnishing the fund utilisation accounts in a timely manner.”

Cattle from France

“Recently, Mr. Divakaran submitted a proposal for bringing over a breed of cattle from France. The Centre has taken a favourable decision on this scheme also,” he said.

The Union government has also raised its share of funding for projects relating to development of ports. Now, it is providing 100 per cent of funds for such ventures.

Central funds have been sanctioned for fish markets at Pangode, Aluva, Paravoor and Pathanamthitta. The government of India aims to achieve a growth rate of four per cent in the agriculture sector. Animal husbandry is a major thrust area; a growth rate of eight per cent has been targeted for this sector.

Divakaran's plea

In his presidential address, Mr. Divakaran said Kerala could achieve self-sufficiency in milk by 2011. The Centre should restore the allocation of rice and sugar to Kerala, he added.

Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac, Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran, Forest Minister Benoy Viswom, Devaswom Minister Kadannappally Ramachandran, Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran and Sports Minister M. Vijayakumar were among those who participated in the inaugural ceremony.