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India won't face shortage of food grains, says Pawar

July 11, 2009 19:55 IST

The monsoon situation in the northern region of the country will improve over the next couple of days and August will receive above average rainfall, Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar has assured.

Quoting the latest report from the Indian Meteorological Department, Pawar told reporters in Hyderabad on Saturday that the states of Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Bihar and Himachal Pradesh will receive 86 per cent rainfall during July. "The expectation of IMD for the month of August is that the monsoon will be 101 per cent. If that prediction proves to be absolutely correct, then there won't be a serious situation".

Pawar admitted that agricultural production will decline because of delayed sowing and transplanting of paddy.  But he assured that the country will not face any shortage of food grains. "The country has sufficient stocks of rice and wheat for the next thirty months. Because of the surplus, India has been helping 18 developing countries by supplying wheat and rice," he said.

The biggest problem was the storage of food grains as granaries were overflowing, rued Pawar. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy had urged the central government to vacate the warehouses in the state, by moving at least 17 to 18 lakh tonnes of rice to other states, as there was a shortage of capacity.

The agriculture minister said that there was a serious shortage of warehousing and storage capacity in the states of Orissa, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, as the warehouses of the Food Corporation of India and the Warehousing Corporation of India were 100 to 102 per cent packed.

Pawar added that the seeds for alternative crop plan, for crops requiring less water, have been kept ready with the states.

Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad