Take up export of foodgrains: Panel

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce has expressed “serious concern” over the continued wastage of “huge quantities of foodgrains” and strongly favoured taking up export to fetch farmers remunerative prices for their produce. Expressing concern that rice and wheat stocks were lying waste in godowns for over three years, it recommended that such grains should be distributed at a nominal price, or even free of cost, to needy BPL families, instead of being left to rot. It suggested that the government might also consider a proposal to issue food coupons, in addition to the Public Distribution System.

The committee, headed by Shanta Kumar, MP, said the country was now faced with a new situation — of glut in foodgrains production, with all the major warehouses stocked to the brim.

“Huge quantities of grains are being wasted and farmers are scarcely getting returns for their investments. The committee expresses serious concern about the problem and is of the view that under favourable global market conditions, the question of permitting export of foodgrains should be considered as an option to save the farmers from this crisis, to earn valuable foreign exchange and to prevent the produce from going to waste,” the committee said in the 98th Report on Export of Foodgrains —Premium Non-Basmati Rice and Wheat presented in Parliament.

The committee said when the total production was much above the total domestic requirement, there being no space for storage and foodgrains being wasted, it was time to review the extant policy of the government so that a decision could be taken on removing the ban on export of wheat and premium quality non-basmati rice.

The committee has suggested that, to ease the situation in godowns, the grains meant for six months' consumption be released at one go under PDS in order to reduce the Food Corporation of India's burden with regard to storage of food grains.

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