Pranab hints at import of edible oils, pulses

The government has kept the option of food imports with the current drought seriously affecting production of kharif crops, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said today.

Addressing a meeting of state agriculture and horticulture ministers on 'Managing agriculture in the context of deficient rainfall', in New Delhi, he said the country might have to import edible oils and pulses on a large scale to meet demand.

Pranab Mukherjee, finance ministerMukherjee said the government plans to import those items that will be in short supply even as food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar asked state governments to take all steps to protect standing crops and plant alternate crops where sowing has not taken place, so that production is maximised.

"Decision is already there that whichever commodity will be in short supply, to maintain demand-supply mechanism, we shall go for imports," Mukherjee said.

He, however, said the government would not announce the timing of imports so that international suppliers do not jack up prices on that score.

"The moment news is spread that India is going for big import, the market prices are jacked up," he said.