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Cabinet Approves Rs 1 Lakh Crore Investment for World's Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector

The Indian government is making a big move to change the way agriculture is done in India, by increasing storage capacity through World's Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector, giving more power to farmers, and making sure people have enough food.

Shivam Dwivedi
World's Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector
Cabinet Greenlights Rs 1 Lakh Crore Investment for World's Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector (Photo Source: Anurag Thakur/Twitter)

The government has just announced a huge plan to build the biggest grain storage facility in the world, amounting to Rs 1 lakh crore. The plan has been approved by the government's Union Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Modi, and a committee has been set up by Union Minister for Cooperation, Amit Shah, to oversee the project.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, while announcing the decision, emphasized that this scheme, marking the culmination of nine years of government efforts, would result in numerous benefits. Thakur highlighted that the plan would not only help in preserving food grains but also reduce the country's dependence on imports, ensure fair remuneration to farmers, and generate employment opportunities on a massive scale.

To implement this initiative, the government will utilize existing resources allocated under various schemes of ministries such as Agriculture, Food Processing Industries, and Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution. These schemes provide interest subvention and subsidies, and their allocations will be consolidated for the new plan.

The inter-ministerial committee, comprising ministers and secretaries from the Ministries of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, and Food Processing Industries, will determine the best utilization of funds from these schemes for the project's successful execution. Several schemes are likely to converge into this endeavor, including the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF), Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure Scheme (AMI), Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), and Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

Additionally, the Pradhan Mantri Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme (PMFME) and Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, along with the allocation of food grains under the National Food Security Act and procurement operations at Minimum Support Price of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution, will be integrated into the plan.

Despite being one of the largest producers of food grains globally, India faces a significant challenge due to inadequate storage capacity. Countries like China, the USA, Brazil, Argentina, and Russia surpass India in terms of storage capacity relative to their production levels. Presently, India can store only 47 percent of its total food production. However, the new scheme aims to bridge this gap by adding an additional capacity of 700 lakh tonnes over the next five years, thereby significantly increasing the nation's storage capability.

Minister Thakur stressed that India produces a staggering 3100 lakh tonnes of food annually, but a substantial quantity goes to waste due to insufficient storage facilities and transportation issues. As a result, farmers often suffer from receiving inadequate prices for their produce due to damage. However, with the implementation of this plan, farmers will have the opportunity to secure 70 percent loans from the Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) by storing their crops in the designated storage facilities.

Under this scheme, every block will be equipped with a 2000-tonne godown, while PACS will have godowns with capacities ranging from 500 to 2000 tonnes. The country already has 63,000 functional PACS, which are computerized and authorized to carry out 25 different activities, with storage now being added to their repertoire.

To ensure timely and consistent implementation of the plan in a professional manner, the Ministry of Cooperation will initiate a pilot project in at least ten selected districts across various states and union territories. This pilot project will provide valuable insights into regional requirements, enabling the committee to modify guidelines and implementation methodologies as needed.

The plan encompasses multiple objectives and aims to address the shortage of agricultural infrastructure by facilitating the establishment of godowns at the PACS level. Moreover, PACS will have expanded roles such as functioning as procurement centers for state agencies and the Food Corporation of India (FCI), serving as fair price shops, establishing custom hiring centers, and setting up common processing units for agricultural produce.

The government is committed to issuing implementation guidelines within 15 days of the Cabinet's approval, and a portal for linking PACS with the central and state governments will be rolled out within 45 days.

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