Running the largest food grain supply chain system for public distribution in the world during the country wide lockdown is the challenge taken up by Food Corporation of India (FCI) in a testing environment. The entire workforce of FCI has been engaged with this task over the last 22 days and has delivered results in every aspect of the operations. FCI has been able to move a record 3.74 million metric tons (MMT) food grains stocks using 1335 train loads from the surplus states during the lockdown period at an average of 1.7 lakh metric tons (LMT) each day. This is more than double its normal average movement of about 0.8 LMT each day. During the same period, a quantity of 3.34 MMT stocks was unloaded in the consuming states to cater to the needs of beneficiaries under the targeted public distribution system (PDS).
Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY), which provides 5 Kg food grains free of cost to every beneficiary covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for three months, a quantity of 2.56 MMT stocks have already been issued. Under regular allocation of food grains for NFSA schemes and other welfare schemes, 3.98 MMT food grains have been issued during the lockdown period across the country. Put together, the total food grain stocks issued to cater to the needs of people covered under NFSA and Other welfare schemes of government of India during 22 days of lockdown is 6.54 MMT at an average of 3.27 LMT each day. With this, enough stocks have been handed over to every state government in the country to provide adequate food grains to all beneficiaries covered under NFSA.
To fulfill the requirements of persons not covered under NFSA, state governments have been given the choice to lift food grains at the rate of Rs 21 per Kg for wheat and Rs 22 per Kg for rice against cards already issued by them over and above NFSA cards. In addition to this, states have been given the option to buy rice at Rs 22.50 per Kg directly from FCI without participating in the auction process to meet any additional requirements. With an eye to keep the open market prices under check and to ensure adequate availability of wheat atta, state governments have been authorized to requisition wheat for flour mills directly from FCI at open market sale rates. This system is being operated through the District Magistrates in a decentralized manner. The above initiatives are over and above the regular open market sales scheme through which weekly auctions are conducted for sale of wheat and rice. Already 3.74 Lakh MT Wheat and 3.35 Lakh MT Rice has been offloaded in the market through all the above schemes since 24th March 2020.
Considering the monumental work being undertaken by the NGOs and other welfare organizations in providing food to the poor and needy in these difficult times, Government of India has come up with the scheme to provide wheat at Rs 21 per Kg and Rice at Rs 22 per Kg to them from any depot of FCI anywhere in the country without any upper limit on quantity. Already organizations have started utilizing this scheme in states like Maharashtra and Karnataka. It is expected that this will provide a vital lifeline in maintaining regular supply of food grains to NGOs and Welfare organizations to run relief camps for vulnerable groups during the extended lockdown period.
FCI has ensured continuous supply of food grains across the country during these tough times by undertaking operations with the full support of Indian Railways, other central government agencies like Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC), State Warehousing Corporations (SWC) and FCI employees and labor.