Srinagar: Food Corporation of India (FCI) has strongly refuted a report published in the online news portal calling it “blatantly unfair” and damaging the organization’s reputation
Sudeep Singh, Executive Director (Quality Control), FCI, in a strongly worded letter to the website, said: “It is surprising to note that patently wrong information has been published without making any effort to check the facts and thereby giving completely wrong information to the public at large that 65 Lakh MT food grain has been wasted during the last 4 months”.
Singh said there has been a gross misinterpretation by publishing an imaginary figure of 71.8 Lakh MT as “wasted stocks”, when the actual quantity of food grains stocks that became non-issuable (damaged) during 2019-20 is just 1930 MTs, that too largely due to natural calamities like floods.
Quoting the website that the article is reportedly based on the extracts of a Research Paper titled “COVID 19 Lockdown – Impact on Agriculture and Rural Economy” published by Society for Social and Economic Research authored by Vikas Rawal, Manish Kumar, Ankur Verma, and Jesim Pais. FCI spoke to Prof. Vikas Rawal, who is one of the co-authors, and he confirmed that the data was taken by interpreting the stocks lying in mandies and in transit as “not readily issuable”.
FCI clarified both stocks in mandies and in transit are absolutely fit for human consumption and under no circumstances can be labeled as “food grains wasted”. “This wrong portrayal of FCI misleads the readers and could have been avoided, if the authors/researchers had approached FCI for interpretation of terminology/data, which are used in a specific context to explain the status of the stocks held,” said Singh.
According to the article and the data given in Table 5, it has been reported that 71.81 Lakh MT food grains are ‘not readily issuable”. This has been highlighted in the heading of the article as 65 Lakh MT food grains have been allowed to go waste, without even bothering to cross-check the terminology used in the context of the process of procurement and movement of stocks of food grains in FCI.
In April and May, Rabi season wheat procurement operations happen on a large scale. During the ongoing wheat procurement season, which started on April 15, a quantity of 365 Lakh MT wheat has already been procured by government agencies.
The wheat stocks procured in purchase centers called ‘mandies’ is shifted to storage points over a period of time. There is a certain time lag between procurement and transferring these stocks into the storage facilities as it involves large scale logistic operations involving labor and trucks.
At any given point in time during procurement operations, there will be some wheat stocks procured but yet to be shifted to storage facilities as it is an ongoing exercise. As on May 5, 56.35 Lakh MT procured wheat stocks were yet to be shifted from mandies to storage points. These stocks were subsequently shifted and taken into the central pool account.
Similarly, at any given point in time, there will be some stocks in transit as FCI continuously moves stocks from surplus states to consuming states. During the current pandemic demand for foodgrains had gone up substantially due to additional allocations under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) and FCI was working on a 24/7 basis to meet this additional requirement.
FCI has done all-time record movement of stocks during April 2020 and the stocks which were transiting from surplus to consuming states as on May 1 were also higher than the normal average stocks in transit. The quantity of food grain in transit as on May 1 was 14.01 Lakh MT. These stocks subsequently reached the respective destinations and were issued to state governments for distribution under various schemes of Government of India.
“It is apparent from the news report that this quantity of wheat stocks lying in procurement centers to be shifted to storage points as well as rice and wheat under transit to consuming states from procuring states has been labeled as `wasted food grains’ and has been highlighted in the article,” said Singh.