India will have the capacity to store 70 million tonnes (mt) more foodgrains over the next five years. With this, storage facilities will be available for nearly three-fourths of foodgrains produced in the country.

Currently, the country has storage facilities for 145 mt which is around 47 per cent of the total production. This results in a lot of wastage of not just primary products but also value-added ones.

On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet, in its meeting, approved the constitution and empowerment of an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) for the facilitation of the “world’s largest grain storage plan in the cooperative sector”.

₹1-lakh crore outlay

“It will be a win-win situation for farmers, State and the country,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Singh Thakur said here in a media briefing.

The scheme will have an outlay of ₹1-lakh crore which will be mobilised through the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF), Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure Scheme (AMI), PM Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme (PMFME) and PM Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (PMKSY).

Under the scheme, each of over 7,200 blocks will have a godown with a capacity of 2,000 tonnes to be managed by block development Offices. Also, each of over 63,000 functional Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society (PACS) will establish, operate and manage godowns with capacity between 500 and 2,000 tonnes.

Cost cutting

“As we have centralised storage capacity, additional costs are incurred on transporting grains from procurement points to godowns and then to PDS shops. Now, with the proposed mechanism, this cost will come down,” Thakur said.

Further, he said, in order to ensure time-bound and uniform implementation of the plan in a professional manner, the Ministry of Cooperation will implement a pilot project in at least 10 selected districts of different States and Union Territories in the country. The pilot would provide valuable insights into the various regional requirements of the project, the learnings from which will be suitably incorporated for the country-wide implementation of the plan.

An Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) will be constituted under the Chairmanship of Minister of Cooperation, with Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Minister of Food Processing Industries and Secretaries concerned as members.

Multi-pronged plan

Thakur said the plan is multi-pronged — it aims to address not just the shortage of agricultural storage infrastructure in the country by facilitating establishment of godowns at the level of PACS, but also enable PACS to undertake various other activities.

“By providing various options to the farmers, it would prevent distress sale of crops, thus enabling the farmers to realise better prices for their produce. It would hugely reduce the cost incurred in transportation of food grains to procurement centres and again transporting the stocks back from warehouses to FPS,” he said.

The Cabinet has also given time-frame and manner of implementation. National Level Coordination Committee will be formed within one week of the Cabinet approval. Implementation guidelines will be issued within 15 days of the Cabinet approval. A portal for the linkage of PACS with Government of India and State Governments will be rolled out within 45 days of the Cabinet approval. Implementation of proposal will start within 45 days of the Cabinet approval.