Recently, a senior agriculture ministry official stated that the Centre is coordinating with states to ensure that farm activities are not disrupted amid the pandemic and farmers’ protest. As per the official, “Harvesting is in full swing. Out of the total wheat sown in 31.58 million hectares, 55% has already been harvested in the country, with Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh almost completing the harvest. Approx. 7.5 million tonnes of wheat is already procured in Punjab. Even after farmers’ agitation against the new farm laws, the harvesting activities are not affected.”
However, ensuring sufficient and safe procurement still remains a challenge as the production is much beyond the storage capacity of FCI and the state. As per the data by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, a significant portion of farm produce worth around USD 14 billion is spoiled annually in India due to poor storage facilities. Several steps have been undertaken to ensure adequate infrastructure facilities over the years. Around 16 percent of fruits and vegetables and up to 10 percent of oilseeds, pulses, and cereals are squandered. The government had also planned to build small warehouses at farm gates for benefitting the farmers post the introduction of new farm bills. Adani Group, LT Foods, and other leading private players have been maintaining large and modern silos for FCI to overcome the challenges for nearly a decade.
Across the states of Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal, Adani Agri Logistics Ltd is managing around 5,75,000 MT of food grains for FCI and 3,00,000 MT for the Government of Madhya Pradesh. Additionally, the company is planning to expand its operations and enhance the storage capacity.
Apart from the Adani Group, much before the announcement of reforms in new farm laws, LT Foods had developed 50,000 MT capacity Silos in Amritsar for bulk storage of grains. It bagged the tender to build-own-operate (BOO) Silos for a period of 30 years.
Delhi-based VRC Silos Private Limited also signed an agreement with FCI to store wheat for 30 years in 2019. The steel silo is located in the Barnala city of Punjab with a capacity of up to 50,000 metric tonnes (MT). Augmenting the storage capacity is essential to handle the grains conscientiously and prevent wastage by developing advanced silos. As private players like LT Foods and Adani Group are developing modernized silos much before the new farm law, it is expected that more such players foraying into the sector will meet the increasing demands effectively.