No worry of foodgrain shortage during 11th plan : Pawar

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New Delhi, Mar 17 (UNI) The Government today asserted that the country would remain self-sufficient in foodgrains, except for pulses, during the Eleventh Plan Period.

Replying to questions on the subject in the Lok Sabha, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said the production of foodgrains during 2007-08 was estimated at 219.32 million tonnes and the availability of foodgrains for this period would be more than the demand by about five million tonnes.

He said the National Food Security Mission, which has been launched from Rabi season 2007-08, sought to add the production of rice by ten million tonnes, wheat by eight million tonnes and pulses by two million tonnes by the end of the eleventh plan (2011-12) through area increase and productivity enhancement in targeted districts.

Mr Pawar denied the allegation that the pace of implementation of important agricultural plan schemes, including the National Food Security Mission and "Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana," was slow.

Replying to another set of questions on corporatisation of retail fruit and vegetable markets, he said the government had started the process of getting the Agricultural Produce Market Regulation Act amended by the state governments to bring efficiency in the existing marketing system and allowing the private markets and development of alternative marketing channels such as direct marketing contract farming and e-trading.

Raising the issue, Congress member Aaron Rasheed asked the government to eliminate middlemen to ensure more profit to the farmers from the sale of their agricultural produce.

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