India has sufficient foodgrains to feed its people: FM

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New Delhi, Apr 29 (UNI) Dismissing as 'unrealistic' the perception of impending food shortage in India, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today announced in the Lok Sabha that the country has sufficient foodgrains to feed its people, with wheat and rice procurement touching a new high this year.

Replying to the debate on the Finance Bill, the Finance Minister said till yesterday the total procurement of wheat had been recorded at 13.4 million tonnes(mt) as against the 7.6 mt during this period last year. The total procurement of wheat last year was only 11.1 mt.

On the commendable achievement in wheat procurement, the Minister appreciated the role and cooperation extended by the Punjab and Haryana governments to the Food Corporation of India(FCI), the nodal agency that procures foodgrains for the country's food kitty.

Similarly, the procurement of rice, as of now, touched 22.9 mt when it was only 20.9 mt during the corresponding period last year.

The total procurement of rice this year was expected to be to the tune of 27 mt. For higher procurement of rice, the FM hailed the efforts undertaken by by Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

Referring to the production of wheat and rice during 2007-08, he said they were expected to be at an all time high of 76.7 mt and 95.6 mt respectively. And the overall foodgrains production was at 227 mt according to the third advance assessment.

With the record production of foodgrains, the country could augument supplies and foodgrains through the Public Distribution System (PDS) and help eradicating malnutrition and hunger being suffered by the people living below the poverty line.

Mr Chidambaram appealed to the State governments to ensure efficient and regular supply of PDS items at fair price shops.

UNI JSS RR BD1415

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