13 May 2012

Additional Foodgrain Storage is Priority of the Government

Creation of additional foodgrain storage is priority of the government. It is taking all necessary steps to expand storage facilities. A storage capacity of about 64 million tons is currently available with Food Corporation of India. Additional capacity of 15.2 million tons is being created under the Private Entrepreneurs Guarantee scheme through private entrepreneurs, and Central and State Warehousing Corporations, out of which 2.8 million tons capacity has already been constructed up to March, 2012 and another about 5.2 million tons is likely to be completed by 2012-13, and the balance by 2013-14.. This was stated by Prof K.V. Thomas, Minister of Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution while addressing a national workshop: on Best Practices in TPDS and Food Fortification orgainsed by Department of Food and World Food Programme here today. Prof Thomas said that the Government has also approved creation of a capacity of 2.0 million tons in silos. In North Eastern States, Govt. has finalized a scheme for creation of total storage capacity of 5.40 lakh tons.

Minister’s full address at the seminar is as follows: 

“It gives me great pleasure to participate in this National Workshop focused on aggregating and disseminating the best of the practices in food distribution and food fortification, that has been organized by the Ministry along with the World Food Programme. The Workshop is both essential and timely given that the country is preparing to extend its own food program and tackle this longstanding problem we face. I hope this workshop will help us all learn from each other and help us develop innovative solutions to that end. 

Over the years, thanks to the Green Revolution, investments in infrastructure on power and water and the hard work and co-operation of our farmers, we have reached today a strong position in terms of food grains availability. In the current 2011-12 crop season we hope to see foodgrains production touch 252.6 million tons up from 245 million tons last year. With more and more advancement in seed technology, farm technology and their adoption in our country, we could see this rise in production to continue. Introduction of an exclusive agriculture development program in the Eastern Region of the country ‘Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India’ under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana will ensure reaping benefits of ample natural resources and the potential of Eastern States in contributing to growth in foodgrains production. On the front of procurement of foodgrains as well there has been steady increase. While the average annual procurement of rice and wheat during 2000-01 to 2006-07 was 38.22 lakh tons i.e. 24.3% of the average production, it increased to about 57 million tons during 2007-08 to 2010-11 i.e 32.2% of the production. 

For food security of the people, especially poorer and vulnerable sections, the Government is successfully implementing the Public Distribution System. The existing Targeted Public Distribution System caters to 6.52 crore BPL households, which also includes 2.43 AAY households, who are entitled to received foodgrains at highly subsidised prices. In addition, 11.52 crore APL households are also covered and entitled to receive subsidised foodgrains. Steadily increasing foodgrains production and its procurement by the Government under the price support operation has ensured sufficient availability of foodgrains to run the Public Distribution System. Farmers have also been ensured remunerative prices for their produce in terms of Minimum Support Price. 

With the expanding foodgrains production and its procurement by the Government, it becomes incumbent of the Government to ensure its safe storage. Our Government is taking all necessary steps to expand storage facilities. A storage capacity of about 64 million tons is currently available with Food Corporation of India and State agencies, which includes about 46.5 million tons of covered capacity. A capacity of 15.2 million tons is to be created under the Private Entrepreneurs Guarantee scheme through private entrepreneurs, and Central and State Warehousing Corporations, out of which 2.8 million tons capacity has already been constructed upto March, 2012 and another about 5.2 million tons is likely to be completed by 2012-13, and the balance by 2013-14. The Government has also approved creation of a capacity of 2.0 million tons in silos. In North Eastern States, Govt. has finalized a scheme for creation of total storage capacity of 5.40 lakh tons. 

This is however not to suggest that all is well with the existing PDS. The distribution system has its own deficiencies and it is our constant endeavour to overcome them. Corrective measures are being taken from time to time through improved monitoring and with the application of technology to plug leakages and diversions. The Government is promoting computerisation of Public Distribution System in a big way, and this will broadly cover Computerization of Supply Chain from Food Corporation of India till the fair price shop and electronic authentication of beneficiaries and recording of delivery and payments at fair price shop level. 

Efforts of the Govt. in improving the delivery system have shown positive outcomes. An independent survey conducted in June 2011 by Jean Dreze and his associate has inter alia observed that days when upto half of PDS grain was diverted to the open market are gone and that 100% respondents of BPL households received full quota in Andhra PradeshP, Chhatisgarh and Tamilnadu and percentages in Orissa, Rajasthan and UP were 99%, 96-98% and 78% respectively. 

With the introduction of the National Food Security Bill in Parliament, the Govt. has taken its first important step in the direction of fulfillment of its commitment to the people, for ensuring food security in a rights based approach. It is a historic initiative that seeks to address the issue of food security in a comprehensive manner, by adopting a life cycle approach. It also marks a historic transition in the resilience of our agriculture and the big strides its has taken from the days of foodgrains scarcity to a situation when we will be able to deliver food security in a rights based manner by committing close to 60 million tons of foodgrains. 

I understand this workshop is going to discuss various aspects of food security in detail. I look forward to a constructive debate and discussion on the subject. Ours is a diverse country posing diverse challenges and opportunities. We have some great examples of how to execute efficient distribution, without leakages and diversions. We need to study all successful initiatives and try to replicate them. Such workshops provide a platform for learning and I wish it all the success. “

You May Also Like

loading...

Popular posts