Mafia behind food crisis in India: Experts

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New Delhi, Jun 29: The looming world food crisis will not have any major impact on India and is only artificial, not real, and a ''mafia'' (of multi-nationals) is involved in creating this virtual shortage, said experts. ''The crisis is overdone. The real problem is management and not production,'' said Planning Commission member Prof Abhijit Sen.

''There is enough food in the world for man's need but not for greed...A mafia established in the world, deals with forward trading. They are a bully in the consumer market. The result is a surge in demand which is not actual but virtual,'' said Prof Jaidev Aggarwal, Chairman and Managing Director of the Indian Institute of Finance. Prof Aggarwal lashed out at the WTO for having ''failed'' in its job of keeping food prices low.

''The WTO has failed to perform the task it was supposed to do, keep the prices down. But the prices have gone up. WTO should have ensured that the prices remained low,'' he said.

The two who were participating in a live television discussion here with Russian experts in Moscow, said the real problem was global warming and climate change and something urgently needed to be done about that.

Russian experts said both countries could jointly work out strategies for preventing any such crisis as they had the means and the will.

The Russian experts included Mr Valentin Denisov, Chairman of the State Duma (Parliament) for Agrarian issues, Mr Alexander Fomin, Chairman, Expert Council on Food Markets, and Mr Sergey Lisovskey, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council (Senate) Committee for Agrarian Policy.

The Moscow-Delhi video conference on 'Food Inflation: the International Aspect' was organised by Russian Agency RIA-NOVOSTI.

Prof Sen said both India and Russia were relatively less affected by the food shortage than several others. Citing the example of wheat imports by India, he said that two years ago, India needed to import wheat. But now, not only the import had been stopped, but stock had gone up by four million tonnes.

Now only palm oil was imported by India, he said adding that this was one area, where imports had increased and was a matter of concern.

Admitting that the prices were going up, Prof Sen said food grain production had remained stagnant for the past three years. In addition, agriculture in many developing countries, including India, was ignored for many years.

He said with higher food stocks, India would be able to keep grain inflation under control. He said India had guessed the problem early and acted in time.

''That is why there is less pressure on India,'' he added.

Prof Aggarwal said it was an established fact that as prosperity increased, food consumption went down.

Decline in the value of Dollar and excessive consumerism in developed countries like the US, a ''step motherly treatment'' to agriculture in developing countries, wrong agricultural policies including land fragmentation in many developing countries and lack of modern technology and infrastructure were among the main reasons for decline in agricultural produce and the resultant high food prices.

Mr Valentin Denisov said he did not visualise any long-term problem and the crisis was overdone. Russia had a huge potential for growth, he added.

He, however, said the crisis could continue for another year and both India and Russia owed it to the world to solve the problem.


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