The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution together with Union Ministry of Health and various other ministries have assigned the mandate to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to come up with standards for fortification of food grains such as wheat flour, rice which will add to the nutrient value of food intake.
Informing this, Subhasish Panda, joint secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, said, “The government has urged the industry to participate in recently floated tender process for construction of steel silos with capacity of 1.3 million tonnes (MT) of wheat storage.” Panda was inaugurating an ASSOCHAM summit on ‘Food grains storage in India: Technology option for upgradation’ in Delhi recently.
“There has been great success in floating tenders and also entering into agreements with private sector for construction of steel silos for storage of wheat, only day before yesterday we have floated a capacity of 1.3 MT and couple of months ago another 0.25 MT were floated and the industry has readily accepted the challenge of going in with the PPP mode and working on it and the process is on to start implementing them,” said Mr Panda.
“Steel silos is an accepted technology for wheat storage and there is nothing mischievous about it any longer,” he added.
“We are now looking not in terms of creating more space but more of upgrading our existing spaces so that we demolish our traditional godowns, wherever there has been a godown in an end of life situation and come up with steel silos,” further said Mr Panda.
Talking about the issues regarding bulk storage of rice, he said “We are a bit stumped and flummoxed as to what should be the technology which can be adopted for storage and transportation of rice in bulk, the industries into the food products know that they cannot build big silos for rice storage as of now as there is a lot of temperature control to be done and long storage is not possible as rice tends to break/crumble under its own weight if you keep them for a fairly long period.”
He said that the government is trying to address every aspect of food supply chain, particularly issues related to food grains thereby looking at how they are stored, transported to states and from there to the fair price shops that distribute it to the beneficiaries.
“We are looking at efficiencies and trying to bring in technology at these locations that are specific to transportation from the FCI (Food Corporation of India) godowns to the state governments and fair price shops,” said Mr Panda.
“Further down the chain we are looking at automating the operations of fair price shops so that a beneficiary is targeted and a genuine person who is supposed to get benefit of subsidised food grain is entitled to it and is ensured that it is he/she gets it and not anybody else,” he added.
Mr Panda also informed that government has more than 80 million metric tonnes (MMT) of storage in partnership with states and at any point of time there is a peak of 60 MMT of food grains that are stored in the capacity all over the country.
“We are working on different components of the entire food chain i.e. at the field, farmer, procurement of food grains as that is one of our critical activity throughout the year, state governments are our partners in helping us during that procurement so that we can build up a buffer stock and have a central pool of stocks from which we can address our food security issues,” he said.
“At the field level we are looking at procurement, we are looking at adopting information technology as a means of providing convenience to farmers, centralising database of the amount of procurement taking place, facilitation of payments to be made to the farmers so that they are encouraged to go in for higher production in the next year,” added Mr Panda.