ibnlive » India

Aug 05, 2009 at 08:45am IST

Pawar admits foodgrains wasted in FCI godowns

New Delhi: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's admission in Parliament on Tuesday that a fair chunk of India's stored foodgrains goes waste has sparked a controversy.

India is battling drought in certain parts and floods in some others. The disparate rainfall has brought a steep fall in the production and availability of food crops.

With such food grain availability scenario prevalent, the very possibility that India could be wasting over six lakh tonnes of stored food grains due to improper facilities is disturbing.

BJP leader Ananth Kumar raised the issue in Parliament on Tuesday. He said, "In recent years 1.83 tons of wheat, 3.95 lakh tons of rice, 22,000 tons of paddy and a huge no of tonnes of maize was wasted in the damaged in the various godowns of the Food Corporation of India (FCI)."

In an answer to this, the Agriculture Minister admitted, "You see, the total turnover of the FCI is close to 60,000 to 65, 000 crore. If you calculate the (.20 per cent) point twenty per cent of the total 65000 crore, then the amount will be somewhat close to that."

The food crisis in India is severe for certain sections of society that battle poverty and malnutrition.

  • Seven per cent of India's children under five are malnourished
  • 52 per cent of India's women are anaemic
  • India ranks a dismal 66 out of 88 countries on the world's hunger index
  • That puts India even lower than the starved sub-Saharan Africa
  • Parts of central India, northern India and north eastern India are in the grips of a severe drought
  • The net sowing area of paddy is down by 50 per cent

With such a scenario, how big a part of the precious foodgrains is lost in storage and transit?

An RTI query forced the FCI to disclose that about six lakh tonnes of foodgrains damaged in transit and storage.

If the amount of food grains wasted was shocking, the matter of fact response from the Agriculture Minister was even more so.

Carefully coded, the minister perhaps implied that it was just .20 to .40 per cent of a turnover of 65,000 crore.

When represented in minuscule percentages, the huge figure seems small. But decode it and one realises that the same amount that was wasted could have fed 10 million people for almost one year.