Lok Sabha TV- Public Forum: Food Stock-Taking

 

 


Lok Sabha TV- Public Forum: Food Stock-Taking


 

 

Since 2010, the problem of insufficient food grain’s storage capacity has attracted Government and media attention. Nearly 5 decades have passed since the green Revolution began. India provides a unique case of overflowing godowns and rotting grains on one hand while on the other hand millions go to bed hungry. Around 195 million people are undernourished in India according to the annual report The State of Food Insecurity in the World by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2015 at a time when food production is not really inadequate in the country.

lok-sabha-tv videosWhere does the problem lie?

The crux of the food problem does not lie much on increasing food availability but on improving distribution among people. The heart of the matter is procurement versus consumption access. While Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh are the surplus states in terms of wheat procurement; Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Odisha along with Punjab and Haryana are surplus rice procuring states. Surplus stocks of wheat and rice are moved to deficit states to meet the requirements under targeted PDS and other schemes as well as to create buffer stocks. About 40-50 million tons of foodgrains are transported across the country by FCI in a year. Out of this 90% of the stocks are moved by rail and the rest are moved by the road. Inadequate and improper storage facilities cause a lot of wastage every year. The global food system is entering a period of intense volatility driven by a combination of climate change and population growth.

As far as private food grain stock management is concerned, it can be held at various stages of supply chain. In India particularly, farmers first fill their own containers for yearly supply, then the remaining goes as market surplus, followed by wholesalers and traders or retailers. These constitute private stock. The Government food stock which is purchased for market intervention or assuring MSP to the farmers, their figures are well known but the quantity of private stock remains unknown.

Steps to Improve Foodgrain Storage Facilities:

  1. Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) is an inter-agency platform to increase food market transparency and encourage international policy coordination in times of crisis. It was established at the request of G20 countries in 2011. Participants in AMIS consist of the main producing and consuming countries of major food crops covered by the initiative: wheat, maize, rice and soybeans.AMIS was created to address excessive food price volatility and to strengthen global food security because of the price rise in 2007-08. India is a participant in AMIS.

 

  1. There is a need to increase storage capacity both in the short run and long run. Public- Private Partnership can be adopted to streamline storage facilities, transportation and delivery chain.

 

  1. The database and market intelligence system should be strengthened through studies and surveys should be conducted in various states which can help in future to develop storage according to the quantity of foodgrains.

 

  1. Establishment of cold chains, low cost pre cooling facilities near farms, cold stores and grading, sorting, packing facilities to reduce wastage might help in improving quality and shelf life of the products.

 

  1. Development of area specific agro food parks might be useful in dedicated processing and storage of grains as well as predominant produce of a particular area.
  2. There are many kinds of storage systems followed depending on the length of storage and the product to be stored like cover and plinth storage, community storage structures, rural godowns etc. Silos are being used on a large scale for bulk storage.

A combination of these steps might help in ensuring the population of India the availability of a minimum nutrition basket at a reasonable price.