India falls far short of target for creating grain storage silos

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IAC file photo of grains stored in a warehouse.

Nearly five years after the government announced an ambitious plan to create 100 lakh tonnes capacity of silos under public private partnership (PPP) mode, only 8.25 lakh tonnes of such modern warehousing space has been created, the government said in Lok Sabha.

“Only 8.25 lakh tonnes of silo capacity is complete till now, and the remaining is under various stages of development,” food minister Piyush Goyal said in a written reply in Lok Sabha. Of the total created capacity, 4.5 lakh tonne is in Madhya Pradesh and 3.75 lakh tonne is in Punjab.

The ongoing protest by farmer leaders against the three contentious farm laws have has been alleging that warehouses were created by corporates to store foodgrains followed by the amendment in the Essential Commodities Act. It is likely the creation of silos may further slow down.

ln order to upgrade and modernise the storage facilities, the government had chalked out an Action Plan in 2016 for construction of steel silos on PPP mode in the country. Construction contracts of silos with capacity of 30.75 lakh tonnes at various locations throughout country have already been awarded.

The target to complete the construction of silos in three phases was set for FY20.  However, in addition to inordinate delays at the beginning, the fact that the storage loss of foodgrains in traditional FCI godowns have reduced drastically also took the focus away from constriction of these silos. 

The storage losses of Food Corporation of India (FCI) came down drastically to 0.03% in 2019-20 from 0.22% in 2012-13. The total value of storage loss of FCI was Rs 457.13 crore in 2013-14, according to official data. The total food grains damaged during 2020-21 was 1,806 tonne, as on February 28, 2021. 

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