No country can feed 1.15-billion people: Pranab Mukharjee

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Lucknow, Dec 26 (ANI): Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that there is a need for greater self-sufficiency in food production as no country is capable enough to feed 1.15-billion people, regardless of its infrastructural capacity.

"No country in the world can feed 1.15 billion people, whatever be their capacity. Therefore, self-sufficiency in food production is absolutely necessary and that farmers must be on board. We have no option but to encourage them to produce more by providing them regulative prices," Mukherjee said.

Addressing a business seminar on Indian economy in Kolkata, Mukherjee asserted that farmers should be given regulative prices to motivate them to produce more.

India is an agriculture-based economy where more than 600 million of over a billion population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Though its agricultural sector accounts for nearly 15 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it has been mired in problems.

These factors have led to many suicide cases of farmers in the recent past.

Besides being stung by higher production costs due to inflation and lower profits, they have been facing a number of climatic and socio-economic problems in the region, including heavy rainfall, harassment by moneylenders, inability to repay debts following crop loss, and water scarcity, among others.

Mukherjee further reflected on the inflationary pressures on the national economy, which have burnt a hole in the pockets of consumers, with skyrocketing food and fuel prices.

Average food inflation will be 19.95 percent this fiscal year, a key worry for the Congress-led government as prices of basic foods become a major voter issue. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government is under pressure to rein in inflation while keeping the economy on a high growth trajectory.

"One of the most disturbing trend is the inflationary pressure in the system. I admit some amount of inflationary pressure will be there when, as a policy, we ought to increase the prices of the agricultural products, particularly the food grains," the Finance Minister added.

The price of onions shot up to Rs 80 per kilogram in New Delhi on December 20, while at other places it had skyrocketed to as much as Rs 100. A week ago, onions were being sold between Rs 30 and 45 per kilogram in retail markets.

However, the government, which is hopeful of achieving growth of at least 8.5 percent this fiscal year to end-March, expects inflation to ease to around 5.5 percent by the end of the same month. (ANI)

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