The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Panel calls for smaller grain buffer

New Delhi, Nov. 23 (PTI): The Vashishtha-Philip Committee on buffer stocking policy for the Tenth Plan has suggested that the foodgrains buffer be scaled down to a minimum of 126 lakh tonnes and a maximum of 218 lakh tonnes in July-September from the current requirement of 243 lakh tonnes in the period. It also recommended import of 3.6 million tonnes wheat and rice annually to maintain part of this stock in line with the WTO commitments of the country.

This would be in line with the decline in poverty level and change in consumption pattern across regions and seasonal variations in grains prices, it said.

It recommended that the “stabilisation factor” of the buffer be partly maintained by importing two million tonnes rice and 1.6 million tonnes of wheat.

A significant quantity maintained as part of the buffer not uniformly distributed over different quarters of the year is the “stabilisation factor” which takes into consideration the seasonal variations in prices of foodgrains.

Food minister Sharad Yadav said the new buffer stocking policy might not accept all the recommendations of the committee and will ensure enough stocks for the “supreme food security interests of the country”. The policy is now being formulated by the food ministry after studying the group’s recommendations and will then be taken up by the cabinet.

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