New Delhi, Sept 12 : Union Minister for Agriculture, Sharad Pawar today said that the Government plans to create a two million tonne rice reserve on top of the three million tonne wheat emergency reserve created earlier this year.
Inaugurating a conference on 'Warehousing 2008' here, Pawar said the stocks of primary commodities were at their highest level. Procurement agencies have procured 225 lakh tonnes of wheat this year, which is over double the procurement done last year. In the current rice-marketing season, over 274 lakh tonnes of rice has been procured as compared to 249.66 lakh tonnes by this time last year.
"Steps taken for enhancing foodgrain production, procurement and creation of food reserve 'will have immense impact on demand - supply scenario and we can render the flow of benefits to farmers if adequate safeguards are put in place,' he added.
He said the Warehousing Act enacted recently will greatly help the farmers by promoting storage facilities and protecting them against distress sale.
"The introduction of Negotiable Warehouse Receipts (NWRs) and setting up of an independent regulatory body, the Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority, will bring about many positive changes in the warehousing sector," he added.
He said that the NWRs will enable farmers to obtain short-term loans, thereby avoiding the need to sell the produce as soon as it is harvested. The industry would have lesser risks related to extension of credit by pledging agricultural produce.
"NWRs will also spur related activities like standardization, grading, packaging and insurance. These will also help food processing, banking and insurance sectors in the rural areas of the country," he added.
The Conference is being jointly organized by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Central Warehousing Corporation, Food Corporation of India and FICCI to discuss the opportunities presented by the Warehousing (Development and Regulation) Act 2007 and issues arising in its implementation.