Problem of plenty: 25 MT food grain exposed to elements

Govt plans to evacuate it first through PDS, mid-day meal and ICDS

prasanna

Prasanna Mohanty | June 22, 2012



Problem of plenty is a matter of grave concern for the food ministry these days, with stocks reaching 82.3 million tonnes (MT). With a storage space of only 64 MT (up from 62.7 MT by the end of March 2012), 18.3 MT of food grain is lying in the open and exposed to the elements.

What has complicated the matter further is that another 6.6 MT of food grain have been found to be stored in the open in unscientific manner – stored on the ground in low-lying areas or by the road side within the government godowns, described as under “kuchcha and unscientific” cover-and-plinth (CAP).  Such stocks are mainly located in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

This takes the total vulnerable stock to 25 MT, which will rot in the rain once monsoon sets in.

These are all wheat stock because paddy is not stored in the open but only in proper concrete structures or godowns. Only surplus wheat is stored in the open or in CAP. More stock is vulnerable this year because of higher wheat procurement - up from 26.9 MT in 2011-12 to 36 MT this year. Paddy is procured in the later part of the year.

The food ministry has changed its policy of first-come-first-out to address the issue. As per this, all the stocks lying in the open and under CAP, including 6.6 MT food ministry has discovered to be vulnerable now, will be the ones to be evacuated first and transported to various states for distribution under the public distribution (PDS) and other schemes like mid-day meal and ICDS.

The ministry has already allocated 59.8 MT for PDS and other food schemes. This includes an additional allocation of 6 MT for APL families – from 10 kg earlier to 15 kg per family.

The states are also being asked to off-take 6 months’ allocation at one go to reduce storage problem. The states are also asked to create “intermediary” storage space by utilizing rural infrastructure development fund (RIDF) for which Rs 5,000 crore has been earmarked in this year’s budget. Besides, an additional allocation of 5 MT for the BPL families has been made and another 3 MT earmarked for open market sale (OMS).

Also see:

Worried about glut, food minister seeks PM’s help
High MSP, bonus and taxes on food grain driving private trade out

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