03 March, 2021

Grains Of Truth

It's a case of too much of a good thing

Grains Of Truth

It's a common sight for anyone driving on a Punjab highway. Overflowing granaries, with tarpaulin-covered sacks of wheat and rice extending up to the roadside. And that's where most of it remains, till it rots.

The country clearly has more foodgrains than it needs. This year, thanks to an all-time high wheat procurement of 16.2 million tonnes in the rabi season, food stocks will swell to 42 million tonnes by the end of this month. That's about 10 million tonnes more than last year and 17.7 million tonnes more than we need. For, the country's buffer stock need is set at 24.3 million tonne.

Yet, India's farmers keep producing more and more grain. That's because the government increases the minimum support price by 5-7 per cent every year. In 1999-2000, the country's foodgrain production is expected to touch a record 205.5 million tonnes, up three million tonnes from last year. Holding so much grain costs money. This year, finance minister Yashwant Sinha budgeted a food subsidy bill of Rs 8,100 crore but according to agricultural economist Ashok Gulati, the figure could...

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