Govt to export 3 lakh tonne grain to Bangladesh, Nepal

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 30 2010, 04:37am hrs
With foodgrain stocks mounting and good monsoons promising yet another bumper harvest, government has decided to export around 300,000 tonne of wheat and rice to Bangladesh and Nepal through diplomatic channels.

It has also decided to grant infrastructure statues to godowns and warehouses constructed through private participation which would help in creating more space for storing the excess grains.

Listing the decisions made by the empowered group of ministers (eGoM) which met on Monday, food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar told reporters on the sidelines a conference that there was a request from the ministry of external affairs for additional foodgrain to meet strategic obligations with Bangladesh and Nepal; we have accepted it.

The government has procured almost 22.5 million tonne wheat till July 22. There is almost 58 million tonne of foodgrain in the central pool as on June 30, 2010, much more than the buffer and strategic requirement.

In May, the government had allowed exports of 4 lakh tonne of wheat to Bangladesh from its buffer stocks. The Centre had appointed Food Corporation of India (FCI) to facilitate the sale, which was conducted through government channels.

In 2008, the government had banned exports of non-basmati rice as well, in a move aimed to check rising prices.

Soaring food prices have put the government on the defensive. Food inflation near 13% has led to agitated members stalling the business of both Houses of the Parliament yesterday.

In response to a question, Pawar said: Though vegetable prices are high, rice and wheat prices are stable for some time now.

He added that a decision on sugar industry decontrol will be taken only after assessing the area under sugarcane cultivation and projected production of sugar. A decision is likely by August end, he said.

The minister said that he has not seen any signs of rise in sugar prices, which was expected to happen after millers hiked prices. The prices are same in the retail market. It is ruling around Rs 26 per kg, added Pawar.