HC Deb 17 December 1945 vol 417 cc911-2
44. Mr. Bossom

asked the Under secretary of State for India whether India produces enough rice to meet the annual need, and, if not, what steps are being taken to put under cultivation the great areas of arable land that could be cultivated.

Mr. A. Henderson

India is not self-sufficient in foodgrains, and in the years before the war it was necessary to import annually from abroad for the rice-consuming areas an average of over 1½million tons of rice. During the war, the Government of India and the Provincial Governments have taken all practicable steps to increase the production of rice and other foods, mainly by substituting food crops for other crops. The Provinces have plans for irrigation works which are expected to increase considerably the amount of land under cultivation. I would however point out that a high proportion of the uncultivated land in India, is, in fact, unsuitable for cultivation.

Mr. Bossom

Is it not possible for India to be self-supporting in this respect?

Mr. Henderson

I should say that depended upon the amount of increase possible as a result of the projected improvements.

Mr. Bossom

When will those improvements be instituted?

Mr. Henderson

It is impossible for me to answer that precisely at this stage.

Major Wyatt

In view of the Minister's reply, can he explain why less land was under cultivation in Bihar in 1941 than was under cultivation there in 1921?

Mr. Molson

What progress is being made to get the production of rice going in Burma?

Mr. Henderson

I should like to see that question on the Paper.

Mr. Cobb

Is the Minister aware that the steps which he has outlined are not those which are really necessary, and that what is wanted is an increase in agricultural efficiency? What steps is he taking in that direction?

Mr. Henderson

Again I must say that I am not in a position to answer the question without notice.