The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has supplied around 126 lakh tonnes of food grains, almost equivalent to two-and-a half months’ supply in normal situations, to States and Union Territories during COVID-19 lockdown.
Between March 25 and April 30, States and union territories obtained 37.13 lakh tonnes of wheat and 89 tonnes of rice, totalling 126.13 lakh tonnes.
On an average, every month, the FCI issues around 50 lakh tonnes of food grains to States and union territories under the norms of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and other schemes, according to D.V. Prasad, FCI Chairman and Managing Director.
Of the five zones in the country, the northern zone was given the maximum of 39.95 lakh tonnes; southern zone – 29.18 lakh tonnes, followed by the east – 28.33 lakh tonnes; west – 23.03 lakh tonnes and the northeast – 5.63 lakh tonnes.
What has contributed to the steep hike in the disbursal is the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY), under which beneficiaries of the NFSA are given 5 kg of food grains each per month free of cost for three months (April – June) over and above their monthly entitlement of 5 kg per person.
Nearly 62 lakh tonnes of food grains have been lifted by the States under the PMGKAY and this is about 50% of the total allotment of around 120 lakh tonnes.
Enough food grains stocks have been positioned across the country to meet demands of the State governments for feeding the people affected due to COVID-19, Mr. Prasad points out.
During April, the FCI moved 60 lakh tonnes of food grains to its godowns across the country, a record quantity, surpassing the previous high of 38 lakh tonnes in March 2014. This included transportation of about one lakh tonnes by road to the Kashmir Valley and Leh/Ladakh as well as about 81,000 tonnes to Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya in the northeast.