HC Deb 27 January 1947 vol 432 cc585-6
26. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India the present food position in India; and to what extent previously estimated minimum requirements have been secured.

Mr. A. Henderson

As the reply is somewhat long, I will with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Sorensen

Will the Minister say whether in fact the acute danger has now passed?

Mr. Henderson

I think I prefer my hon. Friend to read the reply

Following is the statement:

In February, 1946, the Government of India forecast that, to meet requirements of foodgrains for consumption and maintain approximately six weeks' working stocks against the demand from Government resources, India would need to import during the whole of 1946 about 4,400,000 tons of cereals. In June they estimated their requirements for the remaining half year at 2,300,000 tons. During the whole of 1946 shipments of food-grains to India totalled 2,448,000 tons. Details of these imports are contained in a statement dated 22nd January which was placed in the Library of the House.

By means of strict internal procurement and rigid rationing arrangements in Southern India, at a low subsistence level, assisted by imports and by the movement of grain from Northern India, a major breakdown of food supplies has been avoided, in spite of the fact that throughout the year the food administration has had to work with dangerously low working stocks. The rice-eating areas of India are now about to benefit from the main rice harvest. Owing, however, to inadequate imports of wheat, the wheat stock position in Northern India is now causing great anxiety, and the wheat content of the group cereal ration of 12 0zs. a day has had to be drastically reduced in many wheat-eating areas. Every effort is being made to import more wheat, but the position is likely to remain extremely difficult until the wheat crop has been harvested in Northern India next: April. Substantial imports of both wheat and rice will be needed by India throughout 1947.