People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 38

September 20, 2009

AIKS Lambasts Govt For Grain Wastage


THE All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has expressed dismay over the criminal wastage of food grains due to the abysmal condition of storage facilities as well as the skeletal presence of FCI godowns. Although this is not a phenomenon that has emerged suddenly, the utter callousness and indifference of the central government to the demand of organisations like the AIKS to expand the procurement facilities and widen the network of modern storage facilities has once again been exposed. Seen in the context of an imminent fall in production of kharif crops due to faulty governmental policies, coupled with crop losses due to drought or floods in many parts of the country, this is extremely condemnable. The shameful negligence has caused rotting of tonnes of food grains and rendered it unfit for human consumption as well as for animals.

In a statement issued by its president S Ramachandran Pillai and general secretary K Varadha Rajan on September 12, the AIKS has reminded said the union agriculture minister�s admission on August 4, 2009 that 0.62 per cent of the country�s stock of wheat and rice was wasted in transit or due to poor storage facilities in the first two months of this financial year alone. Even setting aside the fact that often the government figures play down the losses and that the losses may be higher in reality, this would translate to a loss of 2.2 lakh metric tonnes of wheat and rice in the months of only April and May this year. In times of acute hunger and starvation in many parts and the reduced access to food grains due to the targeted public distribution system, (TDPS), such a situation only further accentuates the problem of food insecurity and malnutrition.

The statement said the Food Corporation of India lacks adequate storage capacities in many states. In Orissa alone, according to official sources, the state and central godowns put together have a maximum storage capacity of 7 lakh tonnes of rice against the state government�s annual paddy procurement target of 55 lakh tonnes. The storage facilities meet only around 12 per cent of the actual requirement of the state. The food grains in many states are stored in make-shift facilities and in the open, whereby they are exposed to the vagaries of nature and also the rodent menace. The lack of adequate storage facilities also leads to distress sales by farmers.

In the light of this fact, the All India Kisan Sabha demands that the government of India take appropriate steps in accordance with the requirements of the state governments to put an immediate halt to the criminal wastage of essential food grains and to strengthen the food security as well as farmers� confidence.