India’s food procurement and distribution to undergo a revamp

Paving the way for reforms in procurement and distribution of food, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has expressed its willingness to implement the major recommendations of a panel, which had suggested that the FCI should be fully overhauled.

The panel had suggested some key measures like direct transfer of cash for fertilizers and grains to check the leakage of subsidy. It had also said that the FCI should withdraw from major northern states and focus on eastern and northeastern states.

"A number of recommendations can be implemented by FCI alone, others by the department of food and public distribution and by the department and the rest by the Centre," The Economic Times (ET) quoted an FCI official.

"We will immediately aim that no grain remains in CAP (covered and plinth) storage for more than three months," the official added.

"On February 10, food secretaries of Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Assam will have a meeting with FCI officials in Delhi. Private companies which would like to participate in procurement operations - from Adani and Cargill to ITC - will also be invited," ET quoted another official.

He added that in an eastern state like Bihar, where about 6-6.5 million tonnes of wheat is produced, neither the FCI nor state government agencies have procured any wheat.