Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan offered much food for thought for participants of the BusinessLine Agri Summit.

In his valedictory address, Paswan said that his Ministry aims to roll out ‘One Nation-One Card’ with 20 States on board from June 1.

This move is intended to enable the right beneficiaries get their entitlement of subsidised foodgrains even if they are not in their home State/Union Territory. Paswan said 12 States are already on board. These include Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tripura. “We expect big States such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to join by March,” he said.




Wrapping up the two-day Summit, which was sponsored by NAFED and Godrej Agrovet among others, Paswan said that 19 States and Union Territories already allow ration card portability within their own region.

Striking a lighter note about his responsibilities — he holds charge of multiple ministries — he said his roles require him to run aggressively even while guarding his wicket for a longer innings.

Paswansaid though the laws of consumer protection are very strict, their implementation lags severely . “The Act is very far from the fact(s) on the ground,” he quipped.

Allaying worries that the nationwide cards would mean getting new ration cards, Paswan said: “I wish to clarify that no new ration cards are being made and there is no merit in this talk of a corporate house being given the responsibility of making new cards. The existing cards will be suffice for getting these updated cards.”

The scheme is expected to cover 63 crore beneficiaries. Many States have already installed e-PoS machines to facilitate portability. In an effort to plug leakages, over 90 per cent ration cards have been Aadhaar seeded. This resulted in cancellation of over 2.98 crore ration cards. Thirty-four States and Union Territories are distributing subsidised foodgrains online.

The Minister said prices of vegetables, including onions, have come down. “We never care about the price of shoes, cars or watches when they increase. But if the farmer gains even a little bit from a vegetable price rise, we cry foul that prices have risen exorbitantly. How do we balance everything,” he asked.

Food Processing

Earlier in the day, Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsmirat Kaur Badal, in her special address, said India has the potential to become the food factory for the world. She said that enhancing capacities of food preservation and processing can go a long way in increasing the income of farmers. Her Ministry has taken several measures over the past six years to realise the Prime Minister’s vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.