Turning Food To Feed -Between the farm and the table lies the rot and a racket

Turning Food To Feed

Between the farm and the table lies the rot and a racket

As of January 1, there were 4,135.224 tonnes of ­‘damaged’ grain in FCI godowns
The country is one of the world’s largest food producers but around 194 million Indians go hungry every day because we waste thousands of tonnes of grain every year. Successive governments had promised and initiated poli­cies to stop the wastage—mounds of grain left to rot in the sun, rain and floods in decrepit Food Corporation of India (FCI) granaries, or eaten by insects and rats. But the rot continues, as does the paradox of millions going hungry. This reeks of callousness, possibly even trickery, in a country that ranks 100 out of 119 on the Global Hunger Index.
On February 5, minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution, C.R. Chaudhary, told the Lok Sabha that India had 4,135.224 tonnes of “damaged/non-issuable” foodgrain lying in FCI godowns on January 1, 2019. In 2017, this was around 62,000 tonnes. This grain is then auctioned to those primarily interested in making feed for cattle and poultry.
“The FCI is the biggest racket the country has ever seen,” says former UP legislator V.M. Singh, national convenor of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee. “The corporation buys the grain and keeps it on open  fields. If you go to Punjab, Haryana or Bihar, you will see how they keep the grain out in the open, on black tarpaulin sheets. The grain is stacked up in a pyramidal ­structure comprising about 50 layers. If it is flooded with, say, four feet of water, only four or five layers from the bottom are affected. And yet they ­auction the entire pile at dirt cheap rates—even though most of it is ­absolutely clean wheat. That is how the racket functions.”
According to Singh, while storage is a problem across the country, local solutions like makeshift platforms can be constructed in areas where the authorities are aware of adverse conditions. “They know these areas are prone to floods and yet they use only those spaces for storage. Why are they keeping the grain there? Because they want it to be declared rotten so they can sell it. If there is no rotten wheat and paddy, what will the corrupt do? To make proper arr­an­gements and put the grain in sheds would need inv­estment instead of helping the corrupt make money,” he says.
An FCI official, who doesn’t wish to be named, insists that ‘procedures’ are being followed and auctions happen only after a decision to grade the grain in a three-tier system is taken after  checks by the vigilance dep­artment. “You can’t throw away the damaged grain. Tenders have to be floated for the auction, be it for a kilo or a tonne,” he says.
Though the quantity of damaged food grain is low compared to the stock issued every year—India produces 265 million tonnes annually, according to the National E-Repository Limited (NERL)—if we take three ounces to be a person’s average daily intake of food grain, the amount wasted was enough to feed Calcutta for over a week.
A state-wise breakdown of the 2019 figure reveals that Bihar accounts for 3,567.65 tonnes (86 per cent of the total damaged grain), comprising 1,267.69 tonnes of wheat and 2,299.97 tonnes of paddy, followed by Punjab with 324.39 tonnes. “Grain damage is generally high in Punjab as substantial quantities are stored in the open, or in cover-and-plinth storage, where chances of damage are higher. There’s also damage due to rain and poor transportation,” says Siraj Hussain, ­former Union secretary for agriculture and farmers’ welfare.
What is also an aberration is the graph of wastage, especially in Bihar, over a five-year period. While Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha fared better than their previous history suggests, Bihar was chugging along fine too­—according to government data. Bihar’s damaged stock was 3,909.41 tonnes in 2013-14, 703.65 tonnes in 2014-15, 46.931 tonnes in 2015-16 and nil in 2016-17. The wasted stock in 2019 was thus accumulated over two years.
“The damage was due to the floods.Some godowns were entirely flooded,” says the FCI official. “For minimising the damage, there is a process to get it checked with a stack-wise analysis.” Since 2000, there have been 11 years when Bihar was flooded. In 2016 and 2017, over 700 people lost their lives.
  • Of the total 4,135.224 tonnes of “damaged/non-issuable” grain, Bihar accounts for 3,567.65 tonnes (86%).
  • Punjab, with about 324.39 tonnes and a history of storage ­issues, comes second among the states.
  • Maharashtra, UP, West Bengal and Odisha fared better this time than in the five ­preceding years.

The damaged food grains consist of wheat and rice that are not suitable for human consumption. Sponsored Elevators and… Mitsubishi… Sponsored Become a… GreatLearning Representational Image According to the latest data of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution; out of 4135.224 MT wasted food grains, rice is 2831.912 MT and wheat 1303.312 MT. The data is of the total quantity of damaged food grains lying in different Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns as on January 1, 2019. Maximum food grains have been wasted in Bihar where out of a total of damaged 3567.653 MT food grains, wheat is 1267.687 MT and rice 2299.966 MT. The second number is of Punjab where 324.394 MT food grains have been wasted. Out of this, wheat is 23.354 MT and rice 301.040 MT. On the third spot is NEF region (Meghalaya/Mizoram/Tripura), where 100.985 MT of rice has been wasted. [Chhattisgarh gets award for producing 28.68% more crops than last year] The fourth number is of Karnataka, with a figure of 45.811 MT of damaged rice. Kerala is on fifth spot where a total of 33.201 MT food grains have been damaged, out of which wheat is 0.994 MT and rice 32.207 MT. On the next spot is Jharkhand with wastage of 31.244 MT of rice. West Bengal is on the seventh spot with a scorecard of 12.290 MT, out of which wheat is 4.510 MT and rice 7.780 MT. Rice weighing 7.909 MT and 4.970 MT has been damaged in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh respectively. Wheat weighing 4.740 MT, 1.570 MT, 0.354 MT, and 0.103 has been wasted in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Delhi, and Maharashtra respectively. According to data, the damaged stock was 3,338 MT in 2011-12, 3,148 MT in 2012-13, 24,695 MT in 2013-14, 18,847 MT in 2014-15 and 31,115.68 MT in 2015-16 . Zero Loss States: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttrakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat are the states where there is nil stock of damaged food grains in any FCI godowns. Governments claims and FCI's Reality: According to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution, India has much more storage capacity that is required for central pool food grains. "The overall storage capacity required for central pool food grains in the country is about 650 Lakh Metric Tonnes (LMT) and the total storage capacity available with FCI, Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and State Agencies is 851.54 LMT as on 31.12.2018," Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution C.R. Chaudhary informed Lok Sabha on Tuesday. [4 years of Modi: Strengthened NFSA ensures food for all] Despite the government's claims if the country damages huge quantity of food grains then an obvious question arises: how much efficient India actually is in storing food grains safe? The answer to the above question was probably best given by Sharad Pawar, former union agriculture minister, who once told Parliament that nearly 40% of the value of annual production of food in India is wasted, with crops left to rot in the sun without storage or transportation, or eaten by insects and rats. Pilferage is another reason behind the damaged food grains. There are numerous cases wherein FCI employees stole food grains, sold in the market, and later showed the stock as damaged. Fed up, the Centre has issued guidelines for the disposal of damaged stock. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India said in its 2017 audit report on FCI that more than 4.72 lakh tonnes of wheat valued at Rs 700.30 crore got damaged in Punjab till March 2016 due to delay in implementation of the private entrepreneur scheme which was expected to increase the storage capacity of food grains in the state. However, the country continues to damage food grains when 'officially' the FCI has four-stage inspection of stored food grains: fortnightly inspection of stocks on 100% basis by technical assistant, monthly inspection by manager (quality control); quarterly inspection by AGM (quality control), and super checks by regional, zonal and FCI headquarter squads. The corporation also claims of taking other measures to stop damaging food grains, which include: 'First in First Out' principle is followed to the extent possible so as to avoid longer storage of foodgrains in godowns; damage monitoring cells have been set up at district, regional and zonal levels; measures to stop roof leakages, seepages, and water clogging in the godowns. However, in reality the lethargy and sloppiness in the FCI seems to be flowing in its blood since decades. For example, way back in 1984 an India Today report said, FCI loses Rs 35 lakh worth of food grain every day in transit and storage alone. More REPORT News

Read more at: https://www.oneindia.com/india/here-is-india-s-food-grain-storage-report-card-2850974.html


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