The government on Tuesday said that there was no shortage of food grains for the Public Distribution System (PDS) due to deficient rainfall in some parts of the country. The stock position of wheat and rice was much more than the buffer norm.
The availability of wheat stood at 300 lakh tonnes against the buffer norm of 162 lakh tonnes, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told the Lok Sabha during question-hour. Rice stock was 172.11 lakh tonnes against the buffer norm of 52 lakh tonnes.
“There is no shortage of food grains for the PDS as well as for other welfare schemes like mid-day meal. This was possible because of very good crop last year,” he said.
Open market availability
However, Mr. Pawar said, the real worry was about open market availability. The paddy crop was less by 15 million tonnes this year so far because 299 districts went without water due to deficient rainfall. To ensure that prices remained under control, the government took several measures, including banning export and liberalising imports of food grains.
The Centre also provided special incentives to the tune of Rs.1,000 crore to States such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in terms of additional diesel and power subsidy to enhance rice production during the Rabi crop season.
The government was also providing assistance from the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) and the National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF) to the affected States for agriculture input subsidy and other relief measures. The regular review with all concerned Central Ministries and departments and the State governments was carried out and the Central teams visited drought-affected States and based on their recommendations, the government had approved a total assistance of Rs.4,073.785 crore from the NCCF.
An additional Rs.1,99,03,275 crore was released to these States under the CRF. The assistance provided from the NCCF as well as the CRF included assistance to be provided to farmers, including small and marginal farmers affected by drought, Mr. Pawar said.