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Food prices to decline after winter crop: Pawar
Published on 8 Nov. 2009 11:01 PM IST
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Food prices will decline after the rabi crop as production of wheat, rice, pulses, oil seeds and sugarcane during the winter is expected to be higher than in the drought-hit kharif season, union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said Saturday. “Cultivation of foodgrains and other essential commodities like pulses in the rabi season is expected to be good, leading to reduction in food prices early next year,” Pawar told reporters on the margins of a function here. “Shortage of sugar and pulses is a temporary phase due to lower production in kharif season.” According to the latest government data on food articles, prices of rice and wheat have increased by 12 percent and 7 percent respectively over the last 12 months, while that of pulses by 23 percent, onion by 50 percent and potatoes by a whopping 100 percent. Expressing concern over lower food production due to deficit monsoon and drought in several parts of the country, Pawar said the 4 percent agriculture growth target for this fiscal would be achievable if livestock and fisheries sectors grew by 6 percent and milk production by 5 percent. “Productivity of our dairy animals can be enhanced by applying embryo transfer technology and sex sorted semen technology,” Pawar said after inaugurating the semen station at the Central Frozen Semen Production and Training Institute. The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has been allowed to import these technologies and adapt them to Indian conditions. To restore farm production in the flood-hit districts of north Karnataka, Pawar said an expert committee would be set up soon to suggest measures to improve soil nutrients as the top soil had been washed away by heavy rains and flash floods last month. “My ministry will approach the Planning Commission to facilitate financial aid to enhance soil fertility in flood-hit areas. We are also planning to arrange credit to purchase seeds by flood-hit farmers in Karnataka and other states,” Pawar said. Though India remained the world’s top milk producer, the minister said the growth rate had to be sustained to meet rising demand due to population growth, increasing purchasing power and per capita consumption. “We have to sustain the growth rate in milk production to bridge the demand-supply gap and avoid a situation where we may have to depend on import of dairy products,” Pawar noted. In this context, the National Congress Party (NCP) president said the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) had set a target of 180 million tonnes of milk production by 2021-22 from about 100 million tonnes in 2008-09.

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