No wheat imports as procurement to exceed targets: Sharad Pawar

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New Delhi, May 12 : Union Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar on Monday ruled out wheat imports as government procurement is poised to exceed the targets this year.

Speaking to media persons after inaugurating the Fruit and Vegetable Summit in New Delhi today, 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 Pawar.

Earlier speaking at the summit, Pawar said that wheat procurement had reached 18.5 million tonnes till Saturday last week.

Pawar said that 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.

"See it's there on all three levels. But at the retail level, the percentage is little more. This matter requires attention because as per our information, practically every year, our farmers lose various types of food grains and agriculture produce worth about 50,000 crore rupees because of non-availability of proper infrastructure and proper food chain," added Pawar.

Pawar 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.

ANI

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