Foodgrains stock with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has come down to 78 per cent of its total covered capacity this fiscal from 92 per cent three years back as wheat procurement dropped last year as well as a huge quantity of grains got distributed under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).

According to the 24th report of the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, placed in Parliament on Tuesday, the storage capacity as on June 30, 2019, was 379.5 lakh tonnes (lt) whereas the stock was 365.33 lt. But the utilisation of the capacity declined to 89 per cent as on June 30, 2020, and to 88 per cent as on June 30, 2021.

However, due to 57 per cent drop in wheat procurement and about 800 lt additional grains being distributed under PMGKAY scheme (between April 2020 and June 2022), the stock further dipped to 324.01 lt against the storage capacity of 413 lt as on June 30, 2022.

Hiring cost-effective

The Ministry informed the committee that FCI continuously assesses and monitors the storage capacity and based on the storage gap assessment, storage capacities are created/hired. The Ministry further stated that hiring/creation of godowns from warehousing corporations/private investors is more cost effective than constructing FCI-owned capacity.

“The owned capacity once constructed at a particular place/location cannot be shifted if the same is required at a different location due to changed procurement pattern or change in offtake of foodgrains on account of consumer preference etc. Whereas the hired capacity can be de-hired and re-hired as per the requirement. So, creation/hiring of capacity by attracting private investment are preferred,” the ministry informed the panel.

According to FCI’s own assessment, hiring of godowns from warehousing corporations/private investors is more cost effective than constructing FCI-owned capacity.

The panel has asked the ministry to explore the possibility of building mini godowns in Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential commodities to the people living there.

In another recommendation, the parliamentary panel also has asked the Food Ministry to take up the matter with Railways immediately to address the issue of shortage of empty rakes. “The Committee is concerned to note that FCI is facing shortage of empty rakes for transportation of foodgrains (loading/unloading) under PDS in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Such a shortage might be driving FCI to opt road transport which is costly compared to rail transportation,” it said.