(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Institutionalised Management of Food Security

(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Institutionalised Management of Food Security


Institutionalised Management of Food Security


  • India is about 1.40 billion, which constitutes about 17.5% of the global headcount of 8 billion.2 The Government of India distributes free food grains under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) to about 81.35 crore people across the country, identified as per the guidelines contained in the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013. 
  • While 8.93 crore people (in families with an average size of 3.76 persons) are covered under the Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and given 35 kg of free food grains per family per month, irrespective of the number of persons in a family, Priority Household (PHH) people, i.e., remaining 72.42 crore people are given 5 kg of food grains per person, per month. Apart from PMGKAY, the Government also runs some other welfare schemes (OWS) like ICDS, PM-POSHAN, Annapurna, hostels, welfare institutions, etc. The total requirement of food grains to run all these schemes is about 610 lakh MT.


  • At the time FCI was established on 14 January 1965, India was a food-deficit nation that often imported food grains from other nations, particularly from United States of America (USA) under PL-480 agreements. 
  • The ‘Short Tether Policy’ of the then USA President Lyndon B Johnson to tighten food supply to India under PL-480 through short-term approvals of shipments brought India into a ‘Ship-to-Mouth’ situation. It was also the greatest challenge that undermined India’s sovereign standing.
  • During this era India launched ‘Green Revolution’ to augment food production with the use of high yielding verities of seeds and deployment of technology in agriculture. 
  • The success of Green Revolution required constant support to farmers by way of guaranteeing returns so that food grain production could become viable and profitable enough for cyclic investment. 
  • This task was performed quite well by FCI. MSP purchase by FCI and allied state government agencies, particularly wheat and paddy is known as central pool procurement and led to constant increase in production. 

This long institutionalised journey had started with four mandates given to FCI. They included:

  • To provide remunerative prices to the farmers,
  • To provide food grains to vulnerable sections of
  • the society at affordable prices,
  • To maintain buffer stock reserves for exigencies,
  • To intervene in market for price stabilisation.

Conventional Godowns

The functional requirement of bagged wheat and rice storage are a quality conventional storage structure (warehouse/godown) alongwithmanagement practices to provide protection against all possible causes of damages during storage. FCI’s storage structure has following features:

  • Robust to withstand environmental stresses for long time, less maintenance cost.
  • Able to prevent entry of rodents, birds, and other animals.
  • Walls, floor, and roof must be damp proof and prevent entry of rainwater.
  • Provision for aeration to maintain uniform temperature and relative humidity as far as possible, sampling for observing insect pest incidence, pesticides application, and fumigation.
  • Properly located and connected with roads with sufficient space for entry and exit of trucks. Locations near the kilns, flourmills, garbage dumps, tanneries, slaughterhouses, and chemical industries have to be avoided.

Thus, a typical conventional godown may have following dimensions depending on capacity:

  • Suitable foundation, damp proof, and rigid floor free from cracks and crevices.
  • Plinth at 80 cm above the ground level for truck loading and 1060 mm for the rail.
  • Platform width of 183 cm for road-fed and 244 cm for rail-fed with slope 1:40 (minimum).
  • 23 cm thick longitudinal walls of brick/stone masonry up to 5.6 m height from the plinth.
  • Steel ventilators of opening1494x594 mm2 placed near the top on the longitudinal walls.
  • Air inlets steel ventilator of 620x620 mm2 placed at 600 mm above the floor level.
  • Suitable number of steel ventilators glazed with fixed wire-mesh on the gable walls.

CAP (Covered and Plinth) Storage: A Phased Out Method in FCI

A low-cost and short-term storage facility for wheat was in use earlier, particularly at the time of harvest in major wheat procuring states due to a lack of covered storage space. Bags are stacked on a wooden frame (dunnage) placed on a raised platform (plinth), and the lot is covered with 800-1000-gauge thick polyethylene sheets. This storage method is known as cover and plinth (CAP) and is common for the storage of wheat and paddy at present in India.

Bulk Storage - Silos

  • Silo is a relatively modern technique of storage consisting of a vertical container used for storing food grains and other granular materials in loose and bulk form. Bins and silos of varying capacities, along with bulk handling, aeration, and fumigation systems, are very popular worldwide for grain storage. These structures are made of masonry, reinforced concrete, or metals (plain or corrugated), with a conical hopper or flat bottom. In hopper-bottom bins, the grains flow under gravity and do not deposit in the bin while unloading (self-cleaning system), and shovelling equipment is not required.

Preservation of Food Grains during Storage

In order to maintain and preserve the quality of stored food grains in godowns and silos, FCI regularly conducts periodical inspections by trained professional staff. Depending on the situation, food grains are inspected for classification, categorisation, disinfestation, and fitness for liquidation following the FIFO principle. Food grains are kept infestation-free by prophylactic treatment with malathion and deltamethrin and disinfected by curative treatment through fumigation with aluminum phosphide.

Technology Integration and reduction in losses

  • The technological advancements to enhance its operations. The integration of digital systems for inventory management like Depot-on-Line System (DoS), GPS-enabled Vehicle Tracking System (VLTS), linking of rice mills with individual Depots/ warehouses for delivery of rice, and allocation of space at individual warehouses for absolute transparency in the procurement process (WINGS), use of e-procurement platforms, setting up a dedicated ‘Call Centre’ to address grievances of all external stakeholders have not only improved the accuracy and efficiency of FCI’s processes but have also contributed to transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain.


While a scientific study by ICAR to evolve scientific norms for losses coupled with online documentation aided with improved operations have improved overall storage losses of 0.17% in 2013-14 to an overall gain of -0.12% in 2022-23, steps like exhaustive joint verification (JV) and high security seals have brought down transit losses from 0.46% to 0.22% during the same period (Chart - 3).


  • Thus, FCI’s food supply chain not only ensures food security to all the needy citizens in every nook and corner of the country but also make it the world’s largest food system. The efforts to modernise its operations and to take along all the stakeholders is a continuing process to improve its efficiency and effectiveness.




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Courtesy: Kurukshetra