Staff Reporter

Mumbai: India is facing a scarcity of warehouses. “As Agriculture Minister of the country, the biggest question before me is, ‘Where to keep the foodgrains?,” Sharad Pawar said on Saturday.

“Today we have fewer numbers of warehouses. We have stocks of wheat and rice to last us for a year, and the next crop [rabi] is already arriving. The misfortune of storing grain in temporary sheds is upon us,” he said speaking at the golden jubilee function of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Marketing Federation Ltd here.

With the proposed Food Security Act, guaranteeing a particular amount of foodgrains to every person, there was a greater need to maintain stocks of grain and fertilizers in each State. This also called for increasing storage capacities.

Individuals could come forward to construct warehouses, Mr. Pawar said.

Highlighting the problem in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said the State needed to increase its warehousing capacity by 8 lakh-13 lakh tonnes, from five lakh tonnes now.

Admitting to inadequacies in the public distribution system, Mr. Chavan said: “It is not as effective as it should be. Complaints of black marketing are on the rise.” He also pointed to the need for increasing the State's crop output and irrigation capacity.

On the cooperation movement, Mr. Pawar called for policy decisions for strengthening it and devolving more powers to State representatives of cooperative institutions. With the advent of liberalisation, cooperative institutions had gone through a period of struggle, he said.