Parliamentary Panel Recommends For Setting Up Of More Quality Control Cells To Prevent Foodgrain Storage Losses
Observing that the number of inspections and sample analysis should be increased, the committee has recommended that the department make vigorous efforts to minimise the storage losses of foodgrains.
A Parliamentary committee has strongly recommended for setting up of more Quality Control Cells (QCC) expeditiously for addressing the issue of quality check/control comprehensively and to prevent losses arising due to damaged foodgrains.
The report of the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (2021-2022) on the subject ‘Quality Control Cells' relating to the Department of Food and Public Distribution was presented to Lok Sabha on Tuesday (19 July).
The Department of Food and Public Distribution is concerned with the formulation and implementation of various national policies relating to procurement, movement, scientific storage, distribution and sale of foodgrains.
The aim of such policies is to ensure that interests of farmers as well as consumers are protected, which is done by providing remunerative prices to the farmers and making food grains available at reasonable prices to consumers, especially to the vulnerable sections of the society.
The committee headed by TMC MP Sudeep Bandopadhyay has urged upon the Department and also the state governments/UTs to streamline the functioning of helpline numbers so as to make them functional/operational in the interest of beneficiaries.
The main elements of the government’s food management policy are procurement, storage and movement of foodgrains; distribution through public distribution system; and maintenance of buffer stocks.
The committee has also recommended the department to vigorously pursue the matter with the Ministry of Finance to make sufficient allocation of funds for setting up of more QCCs in the country.
Observing that the number of inspections and sample analysis should be increased and strict action should be taken against the offenders, the committee has recommended that the department should make vigorous efforts in this regard to minimise the storage losses of foodgrains to prevent the food subsidy from rising further.
The Committee has recommended that work for phasing out of covered and plinth (CAP) storage capacity be taken up expeditiously to minimise storage losses.
The scheme of decentralised procurement of foodgrains was introduced by the government in 1997-98 with a view to effecting savings in the form of reduction in the outgo of food subsidy, enhancing the efficiency of procurement and Public Distribution System (PDS) and to encourage local procurement to the maximum extent thereby extending the benefit of MSP to local farmers.
Under the Decentralised Procurement Scheme, foodgrains are procured, stored and distributed by the state governments themselves.
Under the scheme, the States procure, store and issue foodgrains under welfare schemes of the Government of India. The decentralised system of procurement has the objectives to ensure that MSP is passed in a focused way on to the farmers and to encourage procurement in non-traditional states, thereby extending the benefits of MSP to local farmers, which also saves on transportation cost.
This also enables procurement of foodgrains more suited to local taste for distribution under the PDS.
Under this scheme, the state government and its agencies undertake procurement of paddy/rice and wheat on behalf of the Government of India and also store and distribute these foodgrains under National Food Security Act (NFSA) and Other Welfare Schemes (OWS).
The central government also monitors the quality of foodgrains procured under the scheme and reviews the arrangements made to ensure that the procurement operations are carried out smoothly.
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