Food Corporation of India invites private sector to build food storage facilities

In a bid to attract investment of big corporate entities in India’s foodgrain storage infrastructure, the food ministry has approved a policy which encourages the private players to bid for multiple projects for construction of 249 state of art silos with close to 11 million tonne (MT) wheat storage capacity for FCI.

The silos will be built across 12 states including Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala over the next four to five years through public-private partnership (PPP) model with an estimated investment of Rs 9,200 crore

In a major initiative to eliminate storage losses of foodgrains, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will also discontinue the practice of storing wheat in uncovered facilities from September this year to augment covered storage facility and ensure direct transfer of grains from procurement centres to the states for public distribution.

According to a senior official, out of the total grain storage facility of 98 million tonne (MT) with FCI and state government affiliated agencies, around 19 MT of wheat stocks are virtually kept in the open in the so-called covered and plinth (CAP) facilities, where the grain can’t be stored for more than six months, Financial Express reported.

The FCI uses CAP storage facilities in Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, where the bulk of wheat is procured from, during April-June period, prior to being shifted to covered storage facility. More than 34 MT of wheat was procured in three states during April-June (2021-22).

Under the action plan for eliminating storage of wheat in CAP facilities, FCI is planning to transfer wheat currently stored in such temporary facilities in three states to consuming states in an ‘aggressive manner’ by the end of April 2022. Under the open-ended procurement policy, around 100 MT of rice and wheat crops are procured by FCI and state agencies annually while 60 MT of grain are allocated for distribution to more than 80 crore beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act. On March 1, FCI and state agencies had rice and wheat of 52.97 MT against the buffer norm of 21.04 MT for April 1.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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