Ban on wheat, rice export not to be lifted yet: India

New Delhi, July 30:

India’s agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today ruled out any early decision on lifting the ban on the export of wheat and non-basmati rice.

“No decision has yet been taken to lift the ban. We need to meet domestic demand first,” Pawar said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC).

The Indian government banned the export of non-basmati rice from March 31 this year to rein in inflation, which stood at 11.89 per cent for the week that ended on July 12.

Official estimate shows the demand for rice in India is projected at 128 million tonnes for 2012. The government has targeted production of 129 million tonnes of rice and other food grains, at a growth rate of 3.7 per cent by 2011-12.

Pawar said the dry spell in some southern states, particularly Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, was for a short period and would not adversely impact the paddy crop. “The country has received good rains so far. At the moment, I do not see any trouble as far as rains are concerned. It is going to be a normal monsoon,” he said. “The situation in rest of the country is quite good,” he added.

Asked about the minimum support price (MSP) price for paddy, Pawar said the decision had not yet been taken. At present, there is an ad-hoc MSP of Rs 850 Indian Currency (IC) per quintal or 100 kg for normal paddy.

Regarding the import of edible oil to be distributed through public distribution system (PDS) outlets, Pawar said, “As per the demand, we will stick to one million tonnes of edible oil import. The quantum of import will be revised if the demand increases.”

The imported edible oil will be distributed to the poorest among poor at a subsidised rate of Rs15 per kg. Every poor household will get a kg of subsidised edible oil per month.

The total subsidy under the scheme to be borne by the government in the current fiscal is Rs 15 billion.