The Indian government has taken an unprecedented step in addressing the pressing issue of food grain storage scarcity within the country. In a landmark decision dated May 31, 2023, the government has sanctioned the implementation of what is now hailed as the “World’s Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector.”
This path breaking initiative is set to be piloted across various states and union territories, aimed at tackling storage limitations plaguing the nation’s agricultural landscape.
The comprehensive plan involves the establishment of a diverse range of agricultural infrastructures at the Primary Agricultural Credit Society (PACS) level. This includes the creation of decentralized storage facilities, custom hiring centers, processing units, Fair Price Shops, and more, leveraging a convergence of existing schemes orchestrated by the Government of India (GoI). Schemes like the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF), Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure Scheme (AMI), Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM), and Pradhan Mantri Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme (PMFME) have been amalgamated to facilitate this ambitious endeavor.
PACS will have access to subsidies and interest subvention benefits for constructing storage facilities and developing essential agri-infrastructures. Notably, NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) is extending substantial financial support to PACS by refinancing at highly subsidized rates, incorporating attractive benefits to foster development.
The primary objective is to fortify the economic stability of PACS entities by diversifying their business ventures, thereby enhancing revenue streams and ensuring sustained financial viability.
The National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) spearheads the implementation of this pilot project, bolstered by the support of crucial entities such as NABARD, Food Corporation of India (FCI), Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC), NABARD Consultancy Services (NABCONS), and the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) across various states and union territories.
To guarantee accountability and effective execution, the Ministry of Cooperation has formed an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) empowered to modify guidelines and implementation methodologies as needed. Additionally, a National Level Coordination Committee (NLCC) has been established to oversee the overall progress and steer the execution of the plan.
Moreover, to ensure seamless integration with existing policies at the state level, State Cooperative Development Committees (SCDCs) and District Cooperative Development Committees (DCDCs) have been instituted, serving as crucial monitoring bodies.
World Largest Grain Storage in India, A Move that will change the landscape of Agriculture in India
An essential aspect of this initiative involves collaboration between the Ministry of Cooperation, Department of Food and Public Distribution, FCI, and NCDC through a memorandum of understanding (MoU), ensuring optimal utilization of the storage capacities created at the PACS level. This collaboration streamlines the integration of these storage facilities with the food grain supply chain, enhancing market linkages for PACS.
Approximately 1,711 PACS have been identified by states, union territories, and national-level cooperative federations for storage capacity creation under this groundbreaking project. Presently, construction is underway in 13 PACS across 13 states and union territories as part of the initial phase.
The decentralization of storage capacity at the PACS level promises to curtail post-harvest losses, fortify food security up to village levels, prevent distress sales by farmers, and facilitate better prices for their produce. Furthermore, farmers stand to benefit from diverse avenues such as storage provisions, access to finance, expanded markets, and enhanced income sources.
This colossal initiative not only supports the agricultural ecosystem but also ensures food security at the grassroots level, benefiting consumers across the nation. These significant strides were communicated by Minister of Cooperation, Shri Amit Shah, in a written statement addressing the Lok Sabha.
This transformative project stands as a beacon of hope, poised to revolutionize India’s agricultural infrastructure and bolster the socio-economic fabric of rural communities.