Food security would need over 62 mn tonnes of grain: Pawar

New Delhi, Oct 27 (IANS) Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar Wednesday said 62.1 million tonnes of foodgrain would be required every year tonce the food security act comes into effect.

Stating that he has only read in the press about the National Advisory Council (NAC) recommendations, Pawar said it would be ‘presumptive’ on his part to say what shape the act would finally take.

Pawar said the ministry’s responsibility would increase after parliament passes the National Food Security Bill..

According to the rough estimate prepared by the ministry after reading the press reports on NAC recommendations, a quantity of ‘62.1 million tonnes food grain is required,’ he told the Economic Editors’ Conference here.

‘What is our requirement, we will discuss it. We are awaiting a formal communication from them (the NAC),’ Pawar said.

‘However, irrespective of the fine print, it is certain that our outgo from the Public Distribution System (PDS) will increase substantially from its current level once the act is implemented,’ the minister said.

The NAC, chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Saturday urged the government to move beyond the below poverty line (BPL) criteria and recommended ‘priority’ and ‘general’ categories for legal entitlement of foodgrain under the proposed food security act.

The NAC has suggested that legal entitlements to subsidised foodgrain should be extended to at least 75 percent of the country’s population – 90 percent in rural areas and 50 percent in urban areas.

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