Faced with acute shortage of storage capacity, the Centre on Wednesday asked states to lift PDS foodgrains needed for at least six months and build intermediate godowns to ease pressure on Food Corporation of India godowns.
"We have requested state governments to procure at least six months of foodgrains needed for PDS. Our storage capacity of FCI is 64 million tonnes and our present stock is about 82-83 million tonnes," minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution KV Thomas told reporters
He was speaking after attending a seminar on 'Food Security - Role of Standards,' organised by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
The states at present lifted foodgrains from FCI and sent it directly to PDS shops and the Centre has suggested to state governments to have intermediate godowns so that at least six months' PDS stock could be stored, he said.
Observing that wheat was stored in a scientific way "with the cap" in open, Thomas said there were 61 lakh tonnes of wheat, which is now in makeshift storage." So this is an issue which we are taking up with states, especially major wheat producing states like Punjab and Haryana."
He said states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan were also expected to produce more this year and there was storage problem in these states also.
However, despite shortage of storage, loss and storage damage was very low. "About five years back, it was 2.5 per cent, now it has come down to 0.006 per cent. That is when we handled around 82-83 million tonnes."
Thomas said the country expected to have bumper production of wheat and rice this year.
"Wheat production is expected to be 902.30 lakh tonnes, of which there will be 370 lakh tonnes of procurement. And rice production 1,034.1 lakh tonnes and procurement 353.15 lakh tonnes. Our latest estimate of central storage foodgrains is 82 million tonnes, which is three times higher than the buffer amounts," he said.