Agri Business

Centre initiates pilot project to store rice in steel silos, avoid wastage

Subramani Ra Mancombu Chennai | Updated on February 25, 2021

One of the features of the silos complex is, of the 50,000 tonnes, wheat silos will make up 37,500 tonnes and rice silos the rest

Two complexes to be set up at Kaimur, Buxar in Bihar

The Union Government has begun a pilot project to set up steel silos (storages) for rice as part of its efforts to prevent the cereals wastage during storage.

Though the country has such silos for wheat, it is for the first time that a project for rice silo has been commissioned. If the pilot project turns successful, then the Centre will set up silos to totally store 15.10 lakh tonnes (lt), a Food Corporation of India (FCI) statement said.

Silos are becoming an integral part of the country’s foodgrain storage programme since the FCI has been holding record stocks in recent years.

Avoiding wastage

The traditional storage in jute gunny bags in godowns is resulting in wastage of 10-20 per cent due to weather-related problems, rodents, pests, insects and spillage during transportation. Storing in silos eliminates the need for such storage and thus avoids huge wastage.

A study in 2016 estimated foodgrain wastage at over ₹96,000 crore annually but the late Ram Vilas Paswan told Parliament last year that only 0.02 lakh tonnes of cereals produced by FCI qualified to be termed “wastage”.

“The National Collateral Management Services Ltd (NMCL) has begun the pilot project for the construction of rice silos at Kaimur and Buxar in Bihar,” said official sources.

FCI will set up joint silos of wheat and rice with a total capacity of 50,000 tonnes each at these places.

“We had to consider various designs for rice silos and have completed the process by selecting one. We will soon begin executing the work,” said NCML Chairman Sanjay Kaul.

“Silos for rice will have to be different from the ones for wheat since rice needs to be chilled as a higher temperature can lead to its breaking down,” said Munishwar Vasudeva, Managing Director of Gurugram-based Lotus Harvestec Private Ltd.

Vasudev is a consultant for the silos project in India as well as Bangladesh. Countries such as Thailand, the Philippines and Bangladesh have silos for rice.

“Rice silos are not new for India. Many private players have such silos in the North, but it is the first time that the Union Government and FCI have come forward to set up such storage,” said Kaul.

Private firms such as LT Foods have their own rice silos for captivate use.

Storage capacity

One of the features of the silos complex coming up in Kaimur and Buxar is that of the 50,000 tonnes, wheat silos will make up 37,500 tonnes — three steel tower silos with a capacity of 12,500 tonne each — and rice silos the rest 12,500 tonnes.

“While three big silos will be put for wheat, for rice the silos will be of a smaller 3,125 tonnes capacity. Four such silos will come along with the big ones for wheat,” said Vasudeva.

The reason for the joint silos at the two places is because FCI plans to import wheat from other regions into these two places and distribute them there. “Rice will be procured locally, store and used the way FCI feels fit,” he added.

NCML plans to store the rice at a temperature ranging between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius.

Published on February 25, 2021

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