To import 30 lakh tonnes more

Our Bureau

New Delhi, April 21

The Centre today announced Rs 50 a quintal bonus on wheat procurement over and above the minimum support price of Rs 650 a quintal and decided to import 30 lakh tonnes (lt) more of the foodgrain, in order to maintain adequate buffer stock.

"There will be an incentive bonus of Rs 50 a quintal over and above the MSP of Rs 650 for entire rabi marketing season of 2006-07," the Union Agriculture and Food Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, told reporters. The payment of Rs 50 bonus would cause an additional financial burden of Rs 731 crore on the exchequer. The entire benefit would go to the farmers, he said.

More imports

The Government would also import 30 lt of wheat to ensure adequate buffer stocks in the central pool, and this would be done immediately. This would be in addition to the five lakh tonnes of wheat imports, which has already been contracted from AWB Ltd.

The wheat procurement situation was reviewed by Mr Pawar during his visit to Haryana on April 20 with the Chief Ministers of Haryana and Punjab. He also discussed the issue with the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The assessment after this review showed that the pace of wheat procurement in the country has been slow and some private traders have been purchasing wheat at rates above the MSP. The matter was reviewed on Friday by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, during a meeting with Mr Pawar.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 22, 2006)
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