Grain output ample despite drought: Pawar

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today said India's grain production is estimated to have crossed 250 million tonnes in the 2012-13 agricultural year despite a drought in several parts of the country.

''We had produced 260 million tonnes of foodgrains last year. This year, we have crossed 250 mt even though there was a poor monsoon in some districts of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of Karnataka,'' Pawar said at the Indian Seed Congress organised by the National Seed Association of India (NSAI).

This year's production is sufficient to meet domestic demand, he said, adding that the government's second advance estimate of foodgrains for 2012-13 crop year (July-June) will be released later in the day.

Pawar said the country needs to reduce its import dependence on pulses and edible oil. India imports more than 50 per cent of its edible oil and pulses requirements.

On the proposed new Seed Bill, Pawar said, ''The important bill is pending for a long time. The hope is that the bill will come for discussion in the budget session of Parliament. The passage of the bill will resolve a lot of issues faced by the industry.''