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No storage! Govt admits to rotting foodgrains

Last updated on: March 25, 2011 11:35 IST

No storage! Govt admits to rotting foodgrains

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Amidst a warning that the country is sitting on a "grain bomb" due to prospects of record wheat output, the government on Thursday admitted to cases of foodgrains rotting and said enough storage facility must be created.

Referring to CPI(M) member Brinda Karat showing samples of rotten wheat and rice in the House, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in the Rajya Sabha, "I do admit."

He also agreed that the country needs to create a big storage capacity as the foodgrains production has grown fast in the wake of remunerative prices given to the farmers.

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Image: A farmer collects potatoes at a farm in Kadohiyar village.
Photographs: Jitendra Prakash/Reuters.
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No storage, govt admits to foodgrains rotting

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"It is the fact that we could not create surplus storage capacity to our requirement. I do admit...rotten wheat," he said, replying to a debate on the Finance Bill.

In an unfortunate turn of events, a potato farmer committed suicide by drinking poison for allegedly failing to store his substantial crop in a cold storage at Raina in Burdwan district, West Bengal which ironically last year witnessed three farmers taking their own lives due to crop failure.

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Image: A girl carries a pumpkin at a wholesale vegetable market in Chandigarh.
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters.
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No storage, govt admits to foodgrains rotting

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During the Zero Hour, Karat raised concern that the government was supplying rotten foodgrains to remote tribals areas. She even showed the samples of spoiled wheat and rice in the House.

Making a demand for recall of such foodgrains from government godowns, Karat blamed bureaucrats for the problem.

"I challenge, let one big officer eat rotis of this wheat... Is there no value for life of adivasis?" to whom the grain was supplied via the government ration shops. A K Ganguly (Nom) said "the country is sitting on a grain bomb" as wheat production is expected to be over 82 million tonnes this year.

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Image: A farmer carries bundles of straw amid dense fog on the outskirts of Agartala, capital of Tripura.
Photographs: Jayanta Dey/Reuters.
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No storage, govt admits to foodgrains rotting

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India needs additional storage capacity of 1.5 lakh tonnes and only one per cent was created in 2010, he said. Even before the harvesting of new wheat crop, the government godowns are overflowing with foodgrains of over 47 million tonnes.

Of a record wheat production of over 82 million tonnes, the government procurement are expected to exceed 25 million tonnes, which will put pressure on storage capacity.

Most of procurement and storage is undertaken by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and some state agencies.

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Image: Kashmiri farmers.
Photographs: Reuters.
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No storage, govt admits to foodgrains rotting

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Ganguly, a well-known name in the corporate sector, and former chairman of Hindustan Unilever, said while countries like Russia and China are facing wheat crop failure, India has a fortune of reaping good harvest.

"Let us not convert fortune of plenty into calamity," he said. Noted agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan associated himself with the issue raised by Ganguly.

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Image: A farmer ploughs his paddy field in Kadamtala village, about 189 km (117 miles) north of Agartala.
Photographs: Jayanta Dey/Reuters.
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No storage, govt admits to foodgrains rotting

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India to see 5.4 pc growth in farm sector

India is expected to see 5.4 per cent growth in the farm sector in the current fiscal 2010-11 as indicated by substantial expansion in area and production of major crops in both Kharif and Rabi seasons, official sources said.

"In the first half of 2010-11, farm sector has achieved growth of 3.8 per cent, rebounding from -0.1 per cent and 0.4 per cent in the previous two years," an official statement said.

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Image: Farm output to rise.

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"The full-year growth in the farm sector is estimated to be 5.4 per cent," it added.

In the Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under Ministry of Agriculture, the department has expressed satisfaction over the growth of investment and capital formation in agriculture in the recent past.

As per the annual report, the total expenditure in the first four years of the XIth plan is estimated to be Rs 44,413 crore, up from Rs 14,952 crore in the entire five year period of the Xth plan, the statement said.

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Image: A farmer works in a pulse farm at Bakrol village on the outskirts Ahmedabad.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters.
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No storage, govt admits to foodgrains rotting

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The Gross Capital formation or investment in agriculture sector related to GDP in this sector has shown substantial increasing trend from 15.8 per cent in 2005-06 to 22.3 per cent in 2009-10, it said.

In the absolute terms, the capital formation agriculture and allied activities in 2009-10 was over Rs 1.3 lakh crore, it added.

As per the Central Statistics Organisations estimates, the share of agriculture in the country's GDP has fallen from 17.4 per cent in 2006-07 to 14.2 per cent in 2010-11.

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Image: Farmers plant rice seedlings in their field on the outskirts of Siliguri.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters.
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No storage, govt admits to foodgrains rotting

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The agriculture ministry feels that the falling share of agriculture in GDP is an expected outcome in a fast growing and structurally changing economy.

The focus of the agriculture department in 2010-11 was on mobilising higher investment in agriculture, bridging yield gaps, timely and adequate supply of quality inputs and providing adequate support to the farmers.

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Image: Farmers transport watermelons on their camels to sell in a market near Allahabad.
Photographs: Jitendra Prakash/Reuters.
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No storage, govt admits to foodgrains rotting

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The Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY) has succeeded as a catalyst for pulling in more public investments for agriculture and allied sectors.

The availability of quality seeds now stands at over 3.21 crore quintal, showing a jump of 2.5 times in the five years, the statement said.

The department has drafted a National Mission on Seeds with a proposed outlay of Rs 3,773 crore (Rs 37.73 billion) for a period of five years starting 2011-12 to boost quality seeds production in the country, the statement said.


Image: An Indian farmer sleeps on watermelons in Siliguri.
Photographs: Rupak De Chowduri/Reuters.
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