No need to import wheat this year after record production: Pawar

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New Delhi, May 12 (UNI) Owing to bumper wheat production which is likely to cross 20 million tonnes, the country does not need to import wheat in the near future, Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar today said.

Speaking to media persons after inaugurating the Fruit and Vegetable Summit in New Delhi, Mr Pawar sounded optimistic about procurement of wheat by government agencies for the national food reserve pool.

''As per the information given to me by the state governments, I think our set target of 150 lakhs (15 million tonnes) will escalate to 200 lakhs (20 million tonnes). So if we are reaching this target, then the question of import is ruled out,'' assured the minister.

''I would also like to thank the farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh who have taken up the challenge and made this possible,'' the Minister added.

Mr Pawar said stress on crop diversification in the last few years has led to fast rise in horticultural production to 185.2 metric tonnes.

However, he said that the sector is constrained by widespread fragmentation in the supply chain and huge post harvest losses arising out of inadequate storage, cold chain and transport infrastructure, logistics and supply chain management.

The government imported 1.8 million tonnes of wheat last year after procurement declined to 11.1 million tonnes against the target of 15 million tonnes.

The FCI procures wheat and rice for the Centre, which are supplied to the people at discounted price through the public distribution system (PDS).

Mr Pawar also called for stimulating private investment particularly in the field of infrastructure, marketing and research to cater to the needs of the processing industry and export promotion of horticulture produce.


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