Free export policy for rice, wheat & cotton to continue: Sharma

Free export policy for rice, wheat & cotton to continue: Sharma New Delhi: Commerce Minister Anand Sharma Thursday said the government will continue with the free export policy for rice, wheat and cotton this year.

In September 2011, the ban on export of non-basmati rice and wheat was lifted and exports were put on OGL (Open General Licence) due to bumper foodgrains production in the country.

"Due to higher production, the government has allowed export of rice, wheat and cotton. This will continue as we have enough supply," Sharma said while addressing the All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC) here.

Sharma said that stable farm export policy is necessary to ensure better income to farmers and the same has been communicated to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"I have informed the Prime Minister about it. The Agriculture Minister is also of this view," he added.

The country has so far exported 10 million tonne non- basmati rice and over 3 million tonne wheat through private trade, he added.

Sharma further said that Indian wheat is dominating in the world market this year. An expected crop failure in the US and Ukraine has generated huge demand for India wheat and traders are fetching good price up to USD 328 a tonne.

On agriculture reforms sought by the AIKCC, the minister said that he would discuss with ministers of Agriculture and Finance the credit issues such as possibility of loan waiver to some section of farmers, raising credit card limit and increasing loan repayment gestation period.

On a priority, the farm body has sought that the government announce a bonus of Rs 130 per quintal, over and above the support price, for wheat growers in the 2013-14 marketing year starting from April 2013.

The government has not yet announced wheat MSP. Last year, it was fixed at Rs 1,285 per quintal.

Besides, the AIKCC has demanded that the Centre link MSP with Wholesale Price Index; increase cotton MSP for this year; set up pension fund for farmers; have separate pricing of diesel for agriculture sector; control high fertiliser prices; do away with middlemen and free export of farm items through Pakistan to Gulf and other countries.

It has also sought discussion on Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane with farmers before finalisation of Rangarajan report on sugar decontrol.

PTI