With the National Food Security Bill bringing into sharp focus the requirement of scientific storage, India is looking at collaborating with China in building a modern and temperature-controlled facility.

China has the capacity to store up to 200 million tonnes of wheat and paddy, while India's capacity is 42 million tonnes with an unmet requirement for an additional 17 million tonnes.

Minister of State for Food and Agriculture K.V. Thomas, who has just returned from China after studying the facilities there, told journalists here on Thursday that the Chinese technology was “adaptable.” To start with, it was proposed to have a “technical exchange'' for creation of silos and temperature-controlled warehouses.

The Minister, who met Chinese Vice-Minister for Agriculture Niu Dun, said the Chinese situation was comparable with India's and so was the requirement. The Chinese had the engineering and financial capability which India could adopt.

Visit to study

Initially a team of technical experts and construction engineers from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and some state agencies would visit China to study modern storage construction and preservation methods.

A group of technical experts from China would be invited during November to inspect the storage facilities in the country and assess requirements.

Impressive system

Mr. Thomas and his delegation of senior officials from the FCI and the CWC were particularly impressed with the Chinese system of mechanised handling, preservation techniques and “temperature control'' that enhances the shelf-life of grain at least by three years. China stores paddy, not rice like India does.

The delegation visited the Academy of State Administration of Grain, where all provincial food grains are tested for quality. Mr. Thomas also met officials of the State Administration of Grain, main agency for coordinating procurement and storage.

The delegation, which included FCI Chairman Siraj Hussain, CWC chief B.B. Pattanaik and the Minister's private secretary, B. Ashok, visited modern storage facilities at the Dalian port, Shanghai and Guangzhou and watched business being conducted at the Dalian Commodity Exchange.

A couple of months ago a team of Food Ministry officials visited the United States to study the warehouse receipt system that is linked to commodity exchanges.

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