World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


INDIA: Save food from rotting and people from starving

INDIA: Save food from rotting and people from starving

Thanks to promising monsoons, India is all set for a bumper harvest. This seemingly good news, however, has a caveat to it. To begin with, an open procurement policy based on government announced minimum support price the government is duty bound to buy all foodgrain that reaches its Krishak Mandis (farmers’ markets). The Food Corporation of India (FCI), the central agency for procurement and storage, is already bursting at the seams holding 65 lakh tones, almost double of its storage capacity of 35 million tonnes through 1820 godowns scattered across India. FCI’s storage capacity is roughly the same as the buffer stock and strategic reserve norms of Indian government that pegs it at around 32 million tonnes.

Therein lays the first sham that India lives with: the sham of being a country holding almost double the buffer stock and yet having 42% of its children, and equally sizeable section of its adult population severely malnourished. Add to this the fact that lakhs of tonnes of food grain rots in godown because of poor maintenance, and the criminal culpability of the Indian state in keeping its citizens hungry becomes evident. Even the most conservative estimates put the damaged food grain between 2005 and 2013 at 194,502 metric tonnes. The tragic irony in this data was not lost on the Supreme Court of India which ordered the government to distribute food grain to poor at ‘no’ or very low cost on 12 August, 2013. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, however, refused to execute the order citing the logistical issues involved as well as arguing that it will take the incentive of production away from the farmers.

Coming back to the predicament this year, most of the procured grains will be put in the temporary storage facility like Covered and Plinth (CAP) and will eventually rot. It is time that the government gets its act together to not merely increase its storage capacity, but also decentralize it. As of now, transporting the procured grains to godowns and then back to public distribution shops costs a lot to the exchequer; a loss that can be easily saved by decentralizing the storage down to the district level.

The new government of India should take immediate notice of the situation and release the FCI stocks for the poor and hungry instead of feeding it to rats. It goes without saying that allowing the waste to continue will cause food inflation that hurts the poor and vulnerable the most.

The government should also come up with a comprehensive agricultural policy with emphasis on non-grain food produce, like potatoes, to counteract current market risks that scare many of the farmers off producing them. Poor storage facilities coupled with smaller shelf value of such produce forces the farmers to sell them at very low costs to the hoarders only to buy them back at much higher prices. Just to cite an example, farmers had to dump tonnes and tonnes of potatoes on the roads as their market value was less than the storage cost. Indian agriculture is in a dire need of diversification, getting rid of lobbies with vested interests and hoarders and support from the state. The process must begin now.

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news