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TRIBUNE EDIT-The problem of plenty Glut of grain and not enough storage

September 20, 2018 06:23 AM

COURTESY THE TRIBUNE SEPT 20

The problem of plenty
Glut of grain and not enough storage
’s back to the same yearly story: overabundance of foodgrain and limited covered storage. Paddy procurement will begin in Haryana from October 1, but grain markets are already chock-a-block with wheat and rice from last year. Millers will be at the door with custom-milled rice from mid-October, but it will be months before any consequential clearing of grain takes place. The state has been for long talking of state-of-the-art steel silos for the scientific storage of grain. The government has proposed the construction of silos across 16 cities, as part of the Central Government project to create 100 lakh MT storage capacity, which is all very well, but the progress is sluggish. While the total storage capacity at present is 123 lakh MT, the outward movement every month is only about 5 lakh MT, leading to a spillover.

In 2015, the Shanta Kumar Committee submitted its report on the restructuring of the Food Corporation of India. On the issue of storage it recommended that the corporation outsource its stocking operations to the Central Warehousing Corporation, State Warehousing Corporation and the private sector under the Private Entrepreneur Guarantee scheme through competitive bidding, and use containers to move grain to cut transit losses. It is now 2018 and the talk still revolves around the glut of grain and their scientific storage. The situation is no different in Punjab, which too suffers in the absence of effective post-harvest grain management. While Haryana has done well to station enough paddy stubble mulching machines in its fields, Punjab needs to roll up its sleeves on that score.

The surplus story is stuck on an endless loop. As is established, a high-tech expansive silo system is critical, along with the timely movement of grain and distribution to cut huge losses. The states need to take it up on priority, in the absence of which the outcome is predictable — rotting grain. In a country where a large number still goes to bed on an empty stomach, such wastefulness is simply unpardonable.

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