Country has to import pulses, edible oil, says Thomas

Despite surplus food stocks in the central pool, the per capita per day intake of calorie and protein has declined in the country between 2004-05 and 2009-10.

The per capital net availability of foodgrains including rice, wheat, other cereals and pulses too declined every year between 2006 and 2010, and, while 42.5 per cent children under five years are under-weight, 69.5 per cent are anaemic.

The country is surplus in wheat and rice but has to import pulses and edible oil to bridge the shortfall in availability, Food Minister K.V. Thomas told Parliament on Tuesday while giving data on per capita caloric intake and availability of foodgrains.

Although calorie intake is higher in the rural areas compared to urban areas, it has declined in both populations. Calorie intake in 2004-05 was 2,047 Kcal and protein intake was 57 grams in rural populations.

It declined to 2020 Kcal and 55 grams in 2009-10. In urban populations, the Calorie intake of 2020 Kcal and protein intake of 57 gram in 2004-05, fell to 1946 Kcal and 53.5 grams respectively in 2009-10.

The per capita availability of foodgrains per year in 2006 was 162.5 kg. This has come down to 160.1 kg in 2010, the Minister said.

Answering a question on availability of foodgrains and per capita consumption, Mr. Thomas said that as on April 1, the rice and wheat stock s in the country were 59.6 million tonnes as against the buffer norm of 21.2 million tonnes.

He said that while the estimated production of pulses was 17.5 million tonnes in 2012-13, the demand was 20.4 million tonnes and the gap of around 3 million tonnes is met by imports.

In edible oils, the total consumption during 2011-12 was 18.9 million tonnes against which domestic availability was around 8.9 million tonnes and 9.9 million tonnes was imported.

The government has not conducted any survey to assess the foodgrains requirement in the country. The total foodgrains allocation in the targetted Public Distribution System and for welfare schemes was 62.7 million tonnes in 2012-13.

“While the National Food Security Bill that provides for mandatory distribution of subsidised foodgrains to 67 per cent of the population is in the offing, the government has no immediate plan to introduce direct cash benefit in the Public Distribution System nor will it give foodgrains in lieu of wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act,” the Minister said.