Food minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday told Parliament that damage of grains in state-run warehouses was “shameful” and efforts were on to add more space for bulging stocks, amid demands from several MPs to allow exports of grains.
Replying to BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu’s calling attention motion —a parliamentary provision to flag off key issues — Pawar said key changes had been made in the government's botched warehousing policy.
“We will invest from the government side and encourage private sector and the states to invest in warehousing because rotting of foodgrains is shameful," Pawar said.
The public-private partnership plan for godowns, floated to pull private investors, will now offer 10 years of assured contracts to investors by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the largest state-run grain agency.
HT had reported changes in this scheme on July 29.
The country has posted the highest ever wheat yield in 2009-10 at 80.71 million tonnes, but does not have space to store its piling grains. Nearly 16 million tonnes of outdoor stocks are threatened by rain.
MP N.K. Singh asked why the government was not focusing on decentralising storage. Several MPs, such as Naidu, Jesudasu Seelam and Naresh Gujral, said the ban on wheat export should be lifted if stocks were not manageable.
Pawar said 67,542 tonnes of grains have been found damaged in storage in the current fiscal so far, of which 11,000 tonnes were held by FCI, 54,260 tonnes by Punjab and 1,574 tonnes by Haryana. "However, the quantity damaged must be seen perspective of total quantities handled and larger quantities kept in CAP (outdoor stocks) due to heavier procurement,” Pawar's reply said.