Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday was particularly appreciative of five States — three of them Opposition-ruled — for procurement of wheat and rice.

The five States which came in for a special mention during his reply to the discussion on the Finance Bill in the Lok Sabha were Haryana, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

Thanks to the efforts of these States, the total domestic procurement of wheat and rice had already crossed the level attained this time last year. As against 76.32 lakh tonnes procured last year till April 28, the procurement till date was 134 lakh tonnes.

Rice procurement

Similarly, 229 lakh tonnes of rice was procured till April 28, 2008, up from 209 lakh tonnes last year. On the wheat front, India had already crossed 111 lakh tonnes — the total amount procured last year.

Hails cooperation

While hailing the farmers for the bumper harvest, Mr. Chidambaram congratulated the governments of Haryana and Punjab on their “tremendous cooperation” in wheat procurement. And, in the case of rice, similar appreciation was shown to the governments of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

“If all the States continue to show the level of cooperation that they have extended this year, I have no doubt in my mind that our farmers will produce more, we can give them good procurement price, we can procure enough of food stocks, we can augment the supply to the Public Distribution System and by improving the administration of the PDS, we can take care of the poor.”