Indians would eat what they needed: Anand Sharma


New Delhi : Reacting to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s statement that the world food crisis is a result of an “improvement in the diets of people in India and China,” Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said.

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“Indians would eat what they needed.”

“Ms. Rice has a different perception about India. It’s a painful reality that there is a global shortage and the scarcity has put pressure on poor countries like ours” a leading English daily reported quoting Sharma.

“The shortage has resulted in a sharp increase in food prices, worldwide. But in India it works the other way round. Besides climate change, one major factor in India is the diversion of food grains for bio-fuels.

“As far as India is concerned, our people will eat what they need and it is the duty of the government to ensure adequate availability of food grains. The country should export only when it has much in excess than its own people’s demands.”

Addressing the Peace Corps 2008 Country Directors Conference in Washington, Ms. Rice had said the improving diets of the people in India and China were forcing other countries to keep their food supplies within the limits of their geographical boundaries.

Meanwhile, India’s Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday said the country had enough stocks of foodgrains, thanks to a dramatic improvement in procurement. The government’s highest priority was the agriculture sector and it would take all measures, including increasing fertilizer subsidy, to help farmers.

The Minister was replying to a Rajya Sabha debate on the Finance Bill, which was returned, completing the budget process for 2008-09.

“The Centre’s good procurement policies have led to buffer stocks.

We have enough foodgrains. We are also providing enough foodgrains to the States to meet their demands. For the United Progressive Alliance government, agriculture has been the highest priority. This and the last budget are being described as the ‘green budgets’.”

Refuting the Opposition’s charges that there was a “fertilizer famine,” Chidambaram said that on the contrary, there were enough stocks. The government was ready to bear even a higher subsidy bill on fertilizers to help farmers.”