New Delhi: The ongoing tug-of-war between the Food Ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture has delayed a decision on the issue of export of wheat and rice. The delay has not only raised the possibilities of rotting of foodgrains in godowns, but even compounded the miseries of farmers.

A final decision on the export of foodgrains now rests in the hands of the Empowered Group of Ministers who are scheduled to meet in the next week. Few days back Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had said, keeping in mind the Food Security Bill, his ministry will not lay thrust on the export of foodgrains.

This statement of Pawar has come at a time when the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution K V Thomas has given green signal for the export of wheat and rice. The move was initiated by Thomas due to the surplus stock and a bumper harvest this year.

Pawar in his statement on Tuesday said, “The Government will decide its policy on the export after we finalise the price and quantum of foodgrain to be distributed under the Food Security Law.” Meanwhile, on the other side, Food Ministry is worried about rotting of foodgrains. To avoid any such situation, the Food Ministry has approved the export of 40 lakh ton foodgrains.

Pawar who was previously in favour of the export of foodgrains took a roll back on his stand because of a possible erratic monsoon and food inflation. The sufficient supply of wheat in the international market by Ukraine, Russia and Australia has brought down the rates considerably.

This political clash between Pawar and Thomas is likely to make the situation even worse for farmers. Owing to the surplus stock, the price of foodgrains in the local market is expected to remain low. Adding to the agony, the monsoon apathy may also play a spoilsport for the kharif season as well.

For the record, there has been a ban on wheat exports since 2007 and non-basmati rice exports since 2008.

(JPN/Bureau)