Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said the government will take a final view on lifting the export ban on wheat and non-basmati rice after assessing foodgrains requirement under the proposed National Food Security Act.Last month, Pawar had said that the government should give a serious thought on allowing export of wheat and non-basmati rice, banned in February 2007 and April 2008, respectively, as FCI has foodgrains stock higher than the buffer norm.
Stating that the Prime Minister had yesterday announced that the food bill will be brought in the monsoon session, Pawar said: “If we have to take a responsibility of providing food as a right and give substantial quantity at reasonable rates, it is a responsibility of Food and Agriculture Ministries to see that sufficient foodgrains stocks are there.”
The minister said that empowered group of ministers on food will meet this week to “take some definite view on the total requirement of foodgrains under the Food Security Act and then we will take a view on export”.
His today’s comment is in line with food ministry, which has consistently maintained its view that ensuring food security under the proposed law is priority and not exports.
The proposed food bill, which was promised by the Congress in its 2009 poll-manifesto, is still underway. The bill seeks to provide legal guarantee over specified quantity of foodgrains at reasonable price to the poor.