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Lockdown helps faster delivery of foodgrain by Food Corporation of India
Posted on 4th April 2020
Since a day before the nationwide lockdown, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has delivered 1.16 million tonnes (mt) foodgrain to several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. According to a senior FCI official, this is nearly three times what the corporation had delivered during the corresponding period last year.

The FCI is also looking at moving 6 mt foodgrain this month alone, nearly 2.5 times what it had delivered in April last year, the official said.

Since March 24, a day before the 21-day lockdown was imposed, around 1.33 mt of wheat and rice were loaded from producing states, such as Punjab and Haryana, of which around 1.16 mt have reached designated states until Friday. The remaining is in transit.

A near-absence of passenger traffic on the railway network through which more than 85 per cent of the foodgrain is moved out annually from producing states and easy availability of rakes facilitated this movement of foodgrain. “Goods trains are mainly carrying FCI’s foodgrain,” the official said.

The FCI’s responsibility is to deliver the goods at its designated depots within a state, and thereafter it is the state’s responsibility to transport it further right up to ration shops. Identification of beneficiaries, issuance of ration cards, and supervision and monitoring of ration shops —all fall within the purview of the state administration. “We are planning to move out around 6 mt of foodgrain this month from producing states. In April last year, we had moved around 2.6 mt,” the FCI official said.

The movement of such a large quantity is necessitated as the Centre has decided to give 5 kg of wheat and rice extra to all the beneficiaries (around 820 million people) under the National Food Security Act. As of April 1, the FCI had a foodgrain stock of 56.24 mt, of which rice was 31.64 mt and wheat 24.60 mt.

Besides, helping the distribution of foodgrain through ration, the FCI is offloading surplus stock to bulk users under the open market sales scheme (OMSS) through e-auction. This will enable private flour millers to process the same into atta and other eatables ahead of the arrival of the new crop.

So far, the FCI has received bids for the purchase of 0.14 mt of wheat and 77,000 tonnes of rice from private traders and food processing companies. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the FCI has allowed states to lift a fixed quota of grain at a reserve price under the OMSS, without participating in the e-auction.

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