The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution together with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare 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 and rice which will add to the nutrient value of food intake. This in turn will help improve the health of nation.
“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,” said Mr. Subhasish Panda, joint secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
He was speaking at the inaugural function of a summit on Food grains storage in India: Technology option for upgradation organized by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
“We are happy that the industry is working in sync with the Government and has accepted the public private partnership mode for the development process. We have signed agreements with a number of private companies for construction of steel silos for wheat storage,” he added.
It must be mentioned here that steel silos for wheat storage is a widely accepted technology. It is easier to make a steel silo, and since all parts of a steel silo are made in a factory the quality control can be done. Further, steel silos not only have a high storage capacity but are also easy to aerate and hence maintain the quality of grains.
“We are certainly not looking at creating more space but upgrading the existing spaces. Steel silos will replace all those godowns that are in end-of-life situation,” said Panda.
Regarding rice he said that its bulk storage is a tricky task. “But we are working on the technology that can be adopted for rice storage. Rice needs a lot of temperature control, and its long storage is difficult since rice tends to break under its own weight,” he said.
The government is monitoring each and every aspect of the food supply chain, particularly issues related to food grains; their storage and transportation and state of the fair price shops that distribute the grains to the beneficiaries. Soon the operations of all the Fair Price Shops will be automated so that the benefits reach the target group and only genuine people are helped.
“We are 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.
Allaying the fears regarding the shortage of foodgrains and storage capacity, Panda stated that at any given point of time the Government has more than 80 million metric tonnes (MMT) of storage and 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; at the field, farmer and procurement of food grains, and also seeking the help of various state governments in procurement of grains so that a buffer stock can be build and food security issues can be efficiently addressed,” he said.
“Information technology is being used to benefit the farmers. A central database of the amount of procurement taking place has been prepared, IT is also used to facilitate the payments to be made to the farmers so that they are encouraged to go in for higher production in the next year,” added Panda.