statesman news service
New Delhi, 16 July
Terming the rise in vegetable prices as worrisome, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said this is a “temporary phenomenon” and prices will come down with improvement in supplies in the coming weeks.
Addressing agricultural scientists and policymakers at the 85th ICAR Foundation Day, he said India has the potential to emerge as the leading food supplier to the world even as its bumper food production can meet the growing demand of the vast domestic market.
“I am not worried about foodgrains. There is temporary situation about vegetable prices though it is definitely worrisome,” Mr Pawar said on the sidelines of the function.
Explaining the sudden increase in prices of vegetables, the agriculture minister said in many states, “transportation has been affected because of excess rains” and this has resulted in shortfall in the supplies in the mandis.
Retail prices of key vegetables, like tomatoes, have risen sharply in the last one month. Tomatoes continue to remain costly at Rs 60-80 per kg in most retail markets in the National Capital. However, the government is hopeful that the supply and price situation will improve in the coming weeks.
On onions, Mr Pawar said prices are under pressure as the new crop from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan is expected to hit markets only after three weeks.
In the recent weeks, onion prices have also increased to Rs 31 per kg from Rs 19 per kg, while potato rates have risen marginally to Rs 22 per kg from Rs 18 per kg.
Addressing the ICAR function, President Pranab Mukherjee called upon the Indian agricultural researchers to find technological solutions to challenges being faced by them and to reach out to the millions of small and marginal farmers.
The President drew attention to quality seed production, agro-processing and post-harvest handling of farm produce, development and introduction of genetically-modified crops and preparing agriculture for climate change.
Mr Pawar called for advancing pro-poor agricultural research and development (R&D). He also called for pooling resources of private and public sector R&D organisations to develop next-generation technologies.
The President launched an SMS portal exclusively for farmers. Through this new imitative, farmers can get agriculture related information and advisories as per their needs and location, and in their own language.
Food Ordinance will have smooth passage: Pawar
Mr Sharad Pawar today dismissed the possibility of early general elections in view of the government issuing food security ordinance, saying the “question does not arise unless and until the food reaches the people”.
He expressed confidence that the ordinance will get Parliamentary approval in the monsoon session slated to begin on 5 August. The Centre has taken a “conscious decision” to provide food security to the poor through the ordinance route because of its commitment to give cheap foodgrains to a sizable section of society.