Grain storage plan

Grain storage plan

Context:

  • The Union Cabinet recently approved the constitution of an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to facilitate the “world’s largest grain storage plan in the cooperative sector”.
  • Why does India need a grain storage plan?
  • India, the most populous country in the world, accounts for 18 per cent (1.4 billion) of the global population (7.9 billion).
  • However, it accounts for only 11 per cent (160 million hectare) of the arable land (1,380 million hectare) in the world.
  • Also, India runs the world’s largest food programme under the National Food Security Act, 2013, that covers about 81 crore people.
  • Therefore, to ensure food security of a billion plus population, a robust network of foodgrain storage facilities becomes essential.
  • At present, India has a foodgrain storage capacity of 145 million metric tonnes (MMT) against the total food production of 311 MMT—leaving a gap of 166 MMT.
  • In the absence of sufficient storage facilities, foodgrains are sometimes stored in the open, which results in damage.
  • India has a storage capacity of 47 per cent of its total foodgrains production.
  • At the regional level, only a few southern states have the storage capacity of 90 per cent and above.
  • In northern states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, it is below 50 per cent.

What is the ‘world’s largest grain storage plan in the cooperative sector’?

  • At present, multiple government agencies, like the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Central Warehouse Corporation, Warehouse Development Regulatory Authority, Railways, and the civil supply departments of states are involved in grain management.
  • Under the new plan, the Ministry of Cooperation aims to set up a network of integrated grain storage facilities through Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) across the country.
  • According to the ministry, there are more than 1,00,000 PACS spread across the country with a huge member base of more than 13 crore farmers.
  • This is one of the reasons why the PACS network was chosen for the new plan.

What are the benefits of the plan?

The plan is multi-pronged — it aims to address not just the shortage of agricultural storage infrastructure in the country by facilitating establishment of godowns at the level of PACS, but would also enable PACS to undertake various other activities, viz:

  1. Functioning as Procurement centres for State Agencies/ Food Corporation of India (FCI);
  2. Serving as Fair Price Shops (FPS);
  3. Setting up custom hiring centers;
  4. Setting up common processing units, including assaying, sorting, grading units for agricultural produce, etc.
  • It would reduce post-harvesting losses.
  • It would bring down the foodgrain handling and transportation cost.
  • Farmers would have a choice to sell their produce depending on the market conditions, and not be forced into distress sale.

Syllabus: Prelims + Mains; GS III – Agriculture

CIVIL SERVICES EXAM