New Delhi : The Centre has ruled out lifting the ban on wheat export despite record production, and also non-Basmati rice. According to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, the government would have to consider the domestic situation before lifting the ban.
The government had banned the export of wheat in 2006, when it had to import 5.5mt of wheat to meet domestic demand and keep prices under control. It also allowed import under zero duty. "We have some commitment towards a few countries, so we have to take a conservative approach on allowing export of wheat in general," Pawar said.
The minister noted that the situation is conducive for increasing the area under wheat so that production could be raised. "Last year there was a record crop of 78.4 mt and we desire to cross that," he said. He also said the government would soon announce the minimum support prices (MSP) of rabi crops, including wheat. "There is still time and we will soon take a decision on MSP," Pawar said.
The government is likely to continue with the ban on the export of non-Basmati rice. It is also unlikely to hike the import duty on edible oils. After a meeting of empowered group of ministers, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath told reporters that there was no decision on abolishing export duties on Basmati rice. At present exporters pay a cess of Rs 8,000 per tonne of Basmati shipped from the country. Sources said the decision on edible oils was deferred as there was no unanimity among the ministers. The GoM was called to discuss the food grain scenario in the country and also review the various export ban taken to tame the rising inflation a few months back.
Though the export ban on non-Basmati rice stays, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Commerce Minister Kamal Nath has said the government would "seriously consider" lifting the rice export ban and reimposing the import duties on edible oils. It was anticipated that plummeting international prices of rice and comfortable stocks at home might force the government to lift ban on exports imposed on non-Basmati rice.