BENGALURU:The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has allowed 46,658 tonnes of foodgrains to rot in its 1,889 warehouses across the country in three years, while another 143.74 tonnes were reported stolen. Together, this could have fed nearly 8 lakh people from priority families under the National Food Security Act for an entire year.

In other words, it could have fed 10 per cent of Bengaluru‘s population or 6 per cent of Mumbai‘s citizens if each person received 5kg of foodgrains per month. The problem has been plaguing FCI for decades now with tonnes of foodgrains having gone stale over the years, and it has been trying
to reduce its buffer storage.

FCI chairman and managing director Yogendra Tripati, though, allayed fears of more wastage. “If you look at it, a majority of foodgrains wasted in 2015-16 was due to natural calamities like cyclone. A major storage issue was seen in the 1990s and there was a problem in 2013, but we’ve more or less overcome the issues and are also going to augment our storage capacity in coming years,” he said from Delhi.

Another official pointed out that the amount of grains spoiled in 2015-16 is much lower than in the past two years, and that efforts across the states are in place to achieve this. The corporation has 15.65 million tonnes (mt) of foodgrains in excess of the prescribed buffer norms as of April 1, 2016. According to the norms, which were reviewed in January 2015 after a decade, the FCI should have stocked only 21.04 mt of foodgrains as on April 1, but had 36.65 mt, meaning that problems of storing additional grains will plague the FCI this year too.

Sources in the FCI pointed out that the corporation has been consciously trying to reduce buffer stock year-on-year, and has managed to do that well. The 39.65 mt of grain as on April 1, 2016, is the least it has held in six years, with the highest in 2013 when it had 59.75 mt of stock, more than double the buffer norms.

“If you look at the macro scenario, we have excess foodgrains that can be utilised and we also have the least excess quantity over several years, which is a good sign,” Tripati said, allaying fears of a foodgrain crisis in the coming year.

“We have enough food for the next 12-14 months, as I see it. This is now the wheat procurement period, and we need to have 75 lakh tonne of wheat as of April 1, but we have 145 lakh tonne. Besides this, an additional 190 lakh tonne has been procured, which is more than the annual demand for PDS, which is 240 lakh tonne,” he added.