India's foodgrain production growth exceeds population growth rate

Foodgrain production in the country grew at an average 1.98 per cent during 2004-05 to 2008-09, which was higher than the average rate of population growth of 1.50 per cent during the same period, minister of agriculture, consumer affairs, food and public distribution KV Thomas informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

Based on the behaviourstic approach, the total demand of foodgrains for 2008-09 has been estimated at 219.01 million tonnes against estimated production of 233.88 million tonnes (4th advance estimates released on 21 July 2009), the minister stated.

Stocks of foodgrains in the central pool, based on the quantities of rice, wheat and coarse grains procured during the Kharif and Rabi procurement seasons (as of 1 July 2009) were: 196.16 lakh tonnes of rice, 329.22 lakh tonnes of wheat, 6.45 lakh tonnes of wheat and 6.45 lakh tonnes of coarse grains, he stated.

The present monthly allocations of rice and wheat under targeted public distribution system (TPDS) and other welfare schemes are 23.21 lakh tonnes of rice and 18.34 lakh tonnes of wheat, he added.

In order to further increase production of foodgrains in the country, he said, the government is implementing the following schemes:

  • National Food Security Mission (launched in November 2007) aims at increasing the production of rice by 10 million tonnes, wheat by 8 million tonnes and pulses by 2 million tonnes by the end of the Eleventh Plan (2011-12) through area increase and productivity enhancement in targeted districts.
  • A Centrally Sponsored Scheme `Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil Palm and Maize' is being implemented since 1 April 2004.
  • Centrally-sponsored 'Integrated Cereals Development Programme in Rice Based Cropping Systems Areas, Integrated Cereals Development Programme in Wheat Based Cropping Systems Areas and Integrated Cereals Development Programme in Coarse Cereals Based Cropping Systems Areas' (with effect from October 2000) are under implementation to provide more flexibility to states based on local needs.
  • The Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana launched in 2007 aims to incentivise the states to increase investment in agriculture and allied sector.

He said the government has also taken the following major steps to control the prices of foodgrains in the country:

  • Reduction of import duty to zero for wheat, pulses, edible oils (crude) and maize.
  • Cap of 15 million tonnes on export of wheat and wheat products from 15 May 2009.
  • Cap of 20 lakh tonnes on export of rice on diplomatic basis to friendly countries from kharif marketing season 2008-09.
  • Ban on export of non-basmati rice, wheat and pulses (except kabuli chana).
  • Imposition of stock limit orders for paddy, rice and pulses.
  • Incentivisation on higher production through enhancement in the minimum support price of wheat and rice.
  • Reimbursement of loses by the government to public sector undertaking permitted to import pulses to augment its availability.