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NEW DELHI: With granaries overflowing, the government today said it can continue exports of wheat and non-basmati rice for some more time.
In September 2011, the government had lifted a four-year -old ban on wheat exports and freed non-basmati rice shipments. It decided to review exports after shipments of these two commodities crossed two million tonnes each.
"Our stocks are comfortable on bumper production. So, we can continue with export of rice and non-basmati rice for some more time," Food Minister K V Thomas told reporters after the 20th Board Meeting of theBureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
He said there is scope for more quantity of exports even after meeting the grain requirement under the proposed Food Security Bill and other welfare schemes.
According to trade data, exports of non-basmati rice have crossed two million tonnes and wheat shipments have touched 4.3 lakh tonnes so far.
The decision to allow "unrestricted" export of wheat and non-basmati rice was prompted by a record grain output in 2010-11 crop year (July-June) and the need for freeing up storage space for the new crop.
The government's grain stocks nearly doubled its requirement for welfare programmes to 55.48 million tonnes as on January 1, 2012 on sustained procurement.
The country is aiming to produce a record 245 million tonnes of foodgrains in the second straight year. In 2010-11 crop year (July-June), foodgrain production stood at 241.56 million tonnes.
Asked if the government plans to implement the proposed Food Security Act through executive orders, the minister said, "Some proposals have come to us. These are some policy matters and a decision will be taken only after discussing with other important ministers like Finance Minister ( Pranab Mukherjee)."
The proposed Food Security Bill, which aims to provide legal right over cheaper foodgrains to 63.5 per cent of the country's population, has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
The proposed legislation is a major initiative by the UPA government and considered to be pet project ofSonia Gandhi, after Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).