Cabinet nod for inter-ministry panel to set up ‘largest’ grain storage plan in co-op sector

Cabinet nod for inter-ministry panel to set up ‘largest’ grain storage plan in co-op sector

India News

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved forming and empowering an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to create the “world’s largest grain storage plan in the cooperative sector” by converging eight ongoing schemes of three ministries.

The Cabinet meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Briefing the media on the Cabinet decision, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said, “We will start the world’s largest grain storage scheme in the cooperative sector with an outlay of around Rs 1 lakh crore.”

Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation Amit Shah thanked the Prime Minister for approving the constitution of the IMC.

“In order to ensure time-bound and uniform implementation of the Plan in a professional manner, Ministry of Cooperation will implement a pilot project in at least 10 selected districts,” the government said in a statement. “The Pilot would provide valuable insights into various regional requirements of the project, learnings from which will be suitably incorporated for country-wide implementation of the Plan.”

It stated that an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) will be formed under the chairmanship of Minister of Cooperation, with ministers of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Food Processing Industries, and secretaries as members “to modify guidelines/ implementation methodologies of schemes of the respective ministries as and when need arises”. This, it stated, will be done “within the approved outlays and prescribed goals” to facilitate the “world’s largest grain storage plan in the cooperative sector” by creating infrastructure such as godown for agriculture and allied purposes at “selected ‘viable’ Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS)”.

As per the statement, a national-level coordination committee will be formed within one week of the Cabinet’s approval.

“Implementation guidelines will be issued within 15 days of the Cabinet approval. A portal for the linkage of PACS with Govt. of India and State Governments will be rolled out within 45 days of the approval,” the statement noted. “Implementation of the proposal will start within 45 days of the approval…. The Plan would be implemented by utilizing the available outlays provided under the identified schemes of the respective ministries.”

Highlighting the benefits of the “multi-pronged” plan, the statement said it aims to address not just shortage of agricultural storage infrastructure in the country by facilitating establishment of godown at the level of primary agricultural credit societies (PACS) but “would also enable PACS to undertake various other activities”. These, the statement said, are roles such as functioning as procurement centres for state agencies or the Food Corporation of India (FCI); serving as fair price shops; setting up custom hiring centres; setting up common processing units, including assaying, sorting, grading units for agricultural produce, etc.

“Further, creation of decentralized storage capacity at the local level would reduce grain wastage and (will) strengthen food security,” it said.

“By providing various options to farmers, it would prevent distress sale of crops, thus enabling farmers to realise better prices for their produce. It would hugely reduce the cost incurred in transportation of food grains to procurement centres and again transporting the stocks back from warehouses to FPS (fair price shops),” according to the statement.

In her Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the government’s intention to implement a plan to set up massive decentralised storage capacity 2023-24.

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