Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Let Govt undertake rice exports and share profits with farmers: Lok Satta

The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the Government of India canalize rice exports through State agencies like the FCI, STC, MMTC and PEC and share the profits with farmers by way of bonus or in other forms. In the alternative, the Government should impose a cess on rice exports by the private sector and pass it on to farmers.

Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma and Mr. P. Bhaskara Rao, Working President and Secretary of the Lok Satta Party, said the Government of India decision to permit export of a meager one million tons of rice long after most farmers had marketed their produce would benefit only traders.

The Lok Satta leaders pointed out that farmers suffered because of ad hoc and fitful decisions on food grain exports. The Union Government should allow export of food grains, after ensuring national food security.

Rice exports would neither endanger food security nor trigger food inflation, said the Lok Satta leaders. As of today, the Food Corporation of India has 65 million tons of food grains, almost double the strategic and buffer stock requirement, not to talk of stocks with farmers and traders. It is the rise in prices of fruits and vegetables, eggs and meat, and dairy products which is contributing to food inflation, and not rise in prices of food grains. Food grains account for just one percent of inflation.

Mr. Varma and Mr. Bhaskara Rao said that warehouses in India are overflowing with food grains since the country has produced 246 million tons this year against the annual consumption of 180 million tons. The Government should encourage export of surplus food grains to safeguard farmers’ interests and earn foreign exchange. Considering that a small country like Thailand exports 10 million tons of rice, the Government of India’s decision to permit export of a million tons is not a big deal, they added.

The Lok Satta leaders said that the Government of India decision followed sustained efforts by Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, other political parties and farmers’ organizations transcending their political differences. A permanent solution to the agrarian crisis lies in liberating it from the license-permit-control raj, they added.

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