The Union government on Wednesday ruled out the likelihood of rice imports on its account, as stocks were more than the buffer norm despite an expected dip in production due to drought in the kharif season.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, Union Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar said: “Our stock position is better and over and above the buffer norms and strategic reserves.”

FCI to U.P.’s rescue

Mr. Pawar said the Food Corporation of India (FCI) would intervene in the market in Uttar Pradesh from where complaints were received about farmers having to sell rice below the minimum support price set by the Centre.

“We have to gear up the FCI machinery, for which we have requested the State government to allow us to purchase,” he said, adding that once FCI entered the market in a big way, the prices would improve.

Till December 22, the government agencies had purchased 110.50 lakh tonnes of rice from both Punjab and Haryana against 94.60 lakh tonnes in the corresponding period last year.

Rice procurement had commenced in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal.