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PM worried over food security in next decade

November 09, 2007 03:10 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said he foresaw the next decade would be one in which India's food security would be under stress.

"Global trends in food production and prices and our own demand patterns of consumption are going to put increasing pressure on both the availability and prices of basic food items," he said.

Accordingly, Singh highlighted the role of the farm sector in managing these pressures. "We need to ensure that the agriculture sector not only performs as per our expectations but also that our food planning adjusts to the emerging market realities," he said in his remarks at a meeting of the full Planning Commission in New Delhi on Thursday.

Pointing out that the country had witnessed nearly 9 per cent growth in the first four years of the United Progressive Alliance government; Singh said India had never had such a consistently good growth in the past.

The prime minister also emphasised on the importance of growth in order to expand the resources base and, consequently, expenditure.

"It is the remarkable growth and efforts put in by the finance ministry to gather more revenue that have enabled the huge expansion on outlays on rural employment, Bharat Nirman, agriculture, health and education," he added.

Singh also said there were legitimate concerns on inclusiveness. "The Plan does bring out the fact that reduction in poverty and the quality of employment created up to 2004-05 is inadequate. We do not have data on what happened to employment and poverty beyond 2004-05. We do not know our government has done better on these dimensions but there is reason to hope that initiatives such as the NREGA, Bharat Nirman, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, Mid-Day Meal and National Rural Health Mission may have improved the situation. Nevertheless, there is no room for complacency on this issue. The numbers remain too large and poverty line is over 30 years old," he said.

"I am glad the Planning Commission has set up an expert group to review this matter. It must complete its work fast," the Prime Minister added.

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