Union Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Sunday blamed hoarders for the “sudden” increase in prices of essential commodities and suggested framing of stern laws to deal with them.
“It has been noticed that food and vegetable prices shoot as hoarders stockpile these commodities and make a kill by creating artificial shortage of such commodities despite its availability in the market,” he said.
Sudden price escalation has been seen in the case of vegetables like potato, tomato and onion recently as the hoarders stocked up these items for two to three days to create artificial shortage, Paswan said.
“A number of other factors like rumour and media reports about likelihood of shortage of food and vegetable items also have been responsible for the rise in the prices of these commodities as hoarders act promptly and stock up these items for couple of days to reap windfall later,” he said.
Stating that the Centre has identified hoarding as one of the major reasons for artificial spurt in prices of food and vegetable produces, Paswan suggested framing of stringent rules in all states to regulate the market.
Seeking to stem speculation about shortage of various food and vegetable produces in the country, he said onion, potato, sugar, wheat and paddy production has increased in 2013-14 over that of 2012-13.
The country had recorded paddy production at 1,062 lakh tonnes in 2013-13 against 1,050 lakh tonnes in 2012-13, while wheat production stood at 960 lakh tonnes in 2013-14 against 935 lakh tonnes the previous year, he said, adding that the production of sugar was 241 lakh tonne in 2013-14 against 237 lakh tonne in 2012-13.
The production of onion and potato too was up significantly in the same period and there was no shortage of these produces in the country to meet domestic demand round the year.