Millennium Post

Won't import pulses as we have enough stocks: Paswan

With the country witnessing a bumper production of pulses, the government has decided not to import the politically sensitive lentils from overseas.

"We have enough pulses in our buffer stock to control the prices of the essential items. Whatever agreement was signed with foreign countries could not be worked out for this year as there is a bumper domestic production, so we have to procure a major share from domestic farmers," Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan said on Monday.

"We are more worried about distributing the pulses already in buffer stock than procuring it from Mozambique. Instead of targeted procurement of 10 lakh tonnes from foreign countries, we procured only 3-4 lakh tonnes, and rest was procured from domestic farmers," Paswan said, adding the move initiated by the government to control the prices of lentils have become a problem due to the price crash.

"We have also asked states to procure pulses at minimum support price (MSP) so that farmers won't be forced to sell their produce at distress prices due to a huge harvest of the produce," Paswan said. He added that the government is mulling to include nutritious food items as part of rations and is in talks with the Woman and Child Ministry on the issue.

According to a senior official, the Centre has also asked states to relax the stock limits for state recognised agencies which would help in the procurement of pulses. However, the official said that ban on exports and restriction on stockings by private agencies in a bumper crop year has also contributed to drop in pulses prices.

On the issue of dual MRP, the minister called it illegal and said the consumers have the option of approaching consumer courts. Service charge is also illegal, he reiterated, adding that it is not mandatory.

"Food items wrapped in newspapers is also hazardous to health. It should be stopped. The people also have the right to clean potable water. We are also telling the states to earmark specific places, where street food can be served. These are some of the issues we continue to pursue," the minister said.
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