The last 10 days has witnessed Food Corporation of India (FCI) moving a large quantity of boiled rice to meet distribution to coronavirus affected poor in at least three States — Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal — creating the much needed godown space for Telangana to store food grains in view of a bumper crop this rabi.
On an average, the FCI has transported 26,000 tonnes of rice every day to Tamil Nadu and Kerala for distribution under the Prime Minister's Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana which envisaged 5 kgs of rice per head per month. The beneficiaries will now get another 5 kgs per head as announced by the Centre.
FCI General Manager in Hyderabad Aswin Kumar Gupta told The Hindu that the agency had a target of sending 4.75 lakh tonnes of boiled rice to Tamil Nadu and Kerala in April. Three lakh tonnes was already shifted to the two States by 10 wagons everyday for the past 10 days. Movement of another 2.25 lakh tonnes of boiled rice to West Bengal began three days ago.
In addition, Karnataka was also sent 20,000 tonnes of raw rice but stopped later as the stocks were reserved for Telangana on demand.
Mr. Gupta lauded the relentless efforts of 1,000 employees and another 3,000 labourers of FCI working in odd hours to meet the targets of movement.
The underlying benefits in the effort of FCI are that it is emptying space for storage of food grains in a big way in the godowns of the State. In view of a bumper crop this rabi after the Kaleshwaram and other irrigation projects released water to lakhs of acres for the first time. the State government was faced with the challenge to store the procured food grains.
The total storage capacity of all godowns, including FCI, State and Central Warehousing Corporations, marketing department and private, was only 60.13 lakh tonnes but the government expected 93 lakh tonnes of paddy this rabi against 38 lakh tonnes for the same season last year and 15 lakh tonnes of maize against 8 lakh tonnes last year.
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao even talked about using government and college school buildings to store the stocks to tide over space shortage.
General Manager, State Warehousing Corporation, M. Sudhakar Reddy said space to store 3.5 lakh tonnes of food grains was already emptied by now after rail wagons started taking the stocks to other States. On the other hand, officials of marketing department said there was no immediate requirement of godown space because the paddy that was procured from farmers will straightaway go to rice mills and then the milled rice was shifted to FCI godowns for Central pool, a process that will take at least two months which will include weighment and payment issues with millers. An estimated 70% of paddy was converted into rice at the mills and sent to godowns.
Agriculture Commissioner B. Janardhan Reddy said about one lakh tonnes of paddy was procured from April 4 when the sales began across the State.