M A I N   N E W S

Over 200 lakh tonnes’ produce expected
Wheat not to be imported
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 12
The government today said importing wheat this year would not be required as procurement of the foodgrain was set to reach the 200 lakh- tonne mark as against the target of 150 lakh tonnes during the current marketing season.

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said though the wheat procurement target for the central pool was 150 lakh tonnes, procurement would reach 200 lakh tonnes. “If we reach 200 lakh tonnes, import will not be required….There is no question,” he said on sidelines of a function organised by the CII.

He said his assessment was based on discussions with state governments and the Food Corporation of India. Incidentally, wheat procurement touched the 185 lakh-tonne mark on Saturday.

The minister also indicated that the government was not likely to ban futures trading in any other agricultural commodities. Futures trading in four agricultural products — chana, soya oil, rubber and potato — was suspended last week as part of the government’s price rise-control exercise. Futures trading in rice, wheat, tur and urad was suspended by the FMC earlier.

Meanwhile, Pawar asked the private sector and government agencies to work in synergy to remove problems faced by the horticulture sector and tap its huge potential.

Stress on crop diversification had led to fast rise in horticultural production to 185.2 MT, but the sector was constrained by widespread fragmentation in the supply chain, low productivity levels, and huge post-harvest losses arising from inadequate storage, cold chain and transport infrastructure, logistics and supply chain management.

Due to these problems, there was very little value addition, for example in the area of exports and food processing. Comparisons indicate that in India less than 2 per cent fruits and vegetables produced are processed as against 65 per cent in the US, 70 per cent in Brazil, 78 per cent in the Philippines, 80 per cent in South Africa and 83 per cent in Malaysia.

Due to rapid expansion of internal and external market and processing industries, it is essential to develop such techniques, which reduce post harvest losses, do value addition and improve the quality of the products, Pawar called for adoption of modern technology, making use and provisions under the National Horticulture Mission and research infrastructure of the ICAR and state agriculture universities.

There is also a need to stimulate private investment, particularly in the field of infrastructure, marketing and research and development. The government says agriculture has seen a revival in the past three years and was poised for the second green revolution.

While the horticulture sector is expected to contribute significantly in this revolution, but for this, emphasis will have to be put on productivity, quality consciousness and reduction in post-harvest losses.



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