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India needs modern storage to sustain food bill proposals

Food minister KV Thomas said that country needs modern storage facilities like China to sustain the implementation of new food bill provisions.

Updated: Oct 12, 2011, 03.15 PM IST
NEW DELHI: Food minister KV Thomas said that apart from raising foodgrains production, the country needs modern storage facilities on the lines of China to sustain the implementation of new food bill provisions.

The draft National Food Security Bill, which is likely to be introduced in the winter session of Parliament, seeks to provide legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrains to 75 per cent of the country's rural population and 50 per cent of urban India.

"Steps are being taken to augment storage capacities, but still I find our storage is not modern," Thomas said at an event organised by the International Rice Research Institute.

With rising foodgrains production every year, the country needs modern storage units like the one used in China to reduce losses, he said.

India has storage capacity of 60 million tonnes, the requirement of foodgrains to implement the proposed bill is estimated to be 61-62 million tonnes.

"As we move forward with the proposed bill, there is an urgent need to reduce foodgrains wastage at every level, right from harvesting of grains till storage," Thomas said.

Even now, foodgrains go waste during the harvesting as well as transportation through railway wagons to different states for Public Distribution System, he observed.

Food Corporation of India (FCI) is the nodal agency that procures, stores and distributes foodgrains to PDS at subsidised rates.

Already, the government has launched a scheme to build 15 million tonnes of additional storage capacity through public-private-partnership mode in next few years. It also plans to set up silos with capacity of 2 million tonnes.

On the need for effective PDS for the successful implementation of the food bill provisions, Food Secretary B C Gupta said that the government has started computerising the PDS to reduce leakages and diversion of subsidised grains meant for poor.

As many as 10 state governments have reported taking up digitalisation of ration card database. Besides, some states are implementing GPS-based tracking of vehicles that carry PDS food items, he added.

Agriculture Secretary P K Basu said the ministry will focus on rainfed areas and the eastern belt for increasing productivity and improving farm income in the coming years.

The country is estimated to have produced 241.56 million tonnes of foodgrains in the 2010-11 crop year (July-June) and targets 245 million tonnes this year.
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