Political Economy of Food
PROCUREMENT of kharif crops, particularly paddy, has again been a big failure this year. Earlier hopes of a bumper rabi crop have dimmed, according to A P Shinde, Minister of State for Agriculture. Prices of rice and wheat have remained significantly higher than during last year. In the rice-growing states, prices continued to soar even during harvest season and by late March 1975 began edging up again.
The government is going in for massive American wheat imports, buying at not less than Rs 155 per quintal in the US market. In spite of repeated promises that wheat procurement prices would not be raised beyond last year's level of Rs 105 per quintal, the pressure of wheat-producing states, particularly Punjab and Haryana, led to the announcement of a procurement bomis. Some spates introduced a system of 'graded producer levy' on rice, but it operated in some areas and only against the middle and poor peasants, while in some others it has been ultimately "withdrawn, in effect. Although procurement price of paddy was fixed at Rs 74 per quintal, newspapers reported bulk purchases by north Indian -wholesale traders at Rs 100 or more. Having lowered the target of wheat procurement, the quantity supplied through statutory ratiomag^ Aas been cut in quite a few metropolitan cities. In t'he 1975-76 railway budget, freight on foodgrains has been increased, though marginally, and in the general