Govt admits to foodgrains rotting ahead of wheat harvest

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.
"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.

Earlier 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.

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.

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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