Cabinet okays Rs 1 lakh cr to create grain storage capacity in cooperative sector

The government's step comes in the wake of India currently having a storage capacity of 1450 lakh tonnes which allows storage of only 47 per cent of its grains produced in the country. 

Published: 01st June 2023 12:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st June 2023 12:38 AM   |  A+A-

FILE - A photo of a worker sorting grains at a mandi, used for representative purposes only. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: In a bid to strengthen India’s food security position and prevent distress sell-off by farmers due to lack of storage, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a scheme worth Rs 1 lakh crore to increase the country’s food grain storage capacity by 700 lakh tonnes in the cooperative sector and increase storage capacity at the block level.

The scheme — envisaged as the world’s "largest grain storage plan in the cooperative sector" — aims to converge various schemes of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, and Ministry of Food Processing Industries.

The capacity addition to store 700 lakh tonnes will be completed in a time-frame of five years, said Union Minister Anurag Singh Thakur while announcing the decision taken by the Union Cabinet in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The government's step comes in the wake of India currently having a storage capacity of 1450 lakh tonnes which allows storage of only 47 per cent of its grains produced in the country. 

Under the existing storage infrastructure, a significant portion of the produce gets wasted every year or is sold off by farmers in distress due to the lack of storage facilities.

Thakur said that the programme will start "with an expenditure of around Rs 1 lakh crore" and as per the scheme design each block will get a godown of 2,000-tonne capacity.

To facilitate the project an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) will be constituted under the Chairmanship of Minister of Cooperation Amit Shah, with the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Minister of Food Processing Industries and the respective secretaries. 

The committee will modify guidelines/implementation methodologies of the schemes of the respective ministries as and when the need arises, within the approved outlays and prescribed goals, for facilitation of this programme by creation of infrastructure, such as godowns, etc. for agriculture and allied purposes, at selected 'viable' Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS).

The Plan would be implemented by utilizing the available outlays provided under the identified schemes of the respective Ministries in the Union Budget.

As per the plan the National Level Coordination Committee will be formed in the next 7 days and the implementation guidelines will be issued within 15 days of the Cabinet approval.

Also, a portal for the linkage of PACS with Central and State Governments will be rolled out within 45 days of the Cabinet approval and the implementation of the proposal will start within 45 days of the decision.

With more than 1,00,000 PACS in the country with a member base of more than 13 crore farmers the initiative has been undertaken to set up decentralized storage capacity at the level of PACS along with other agri infrastructure, which would not only strengthen the food security of the country but would also enable PACS to transform themselves into vibrant economic entities, Thakur said.

To ensure time-bound and uniform implementation of the plan, the Ministry of Cooperation will implement a pilot project in at least 10 selected districts of different states/ UTs 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.

The schemes have been identified for convergence under the plan.

In the Ministry of Agriculture, the schemes are the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF), Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure Scheme (AMI), Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) and Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM).

The schemes identified under the Ministry of Food Processing Industries are the Pradhan Mantri Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme (PMFME) and Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY).

In the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, the programmes for the allocation of food grains under the National Food Security Act and procurement operations at Minimum Support Price (MSP) have been identified.

(With additional inputs from PTI)

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