Government of India (GOI) appears to be gloating over the performance of the farmers in achieving a record production of food grains this year, as being predicted by its expert forecasters. Whether this has happened because of GOI or in spite of it, is a million dollar question. Interestingly if there were shortfalls, GOI would have blamed failure of rains or trotted out some other excuse while farmers' success story is promptly touted as its own with no sense of shame! A closer look at the statistics of production at the disaggregated level will reveal a different story. While wheat and other cereals except coarse grains have shown higher production, it is alarming to see the production of pules and oil seeds dipping to dangerous levels with decreased production to the extent of 10-15% and the aam aadmi cannot but shiver looking ahead what is in store for him in the coming months vis-a-vis the the availability and cost of these vital foods. If GOI cannot bring about a positive change in the nutrition quality of grains produced by increasing the production of oil seeds and pulses, it has no right to claim that it is working for the interests of aam aadmi! If this is not a failure of GOI agricultural policies, what else it can be? Here are the details of this sad story coming out of GOI's own backyard!
"The government's food grain storage woes have turned more acute, with food grain production for 2011-12 estimated at an all-time high of 252.56 million tonnes, almost 3.1 per cent more than that the previous year's production. This may help provide a minor boost to India's economic growth in the previous financial year, estimated at 6.9 per cent. While releasing the third advanced estimates of agricultural production in 2011-12, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said storing such huge quantities of grain was a concern. "The overall food grain production is good. The only problem is storage," Pawar told reporters, adding the issue was being addressed by the food ministry. Pawar had recently urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to call a high level meeting of all stakeholders to discuss the storage problem. He had said if the issue was not resolved, it might affect the morale of growers. According to official estimates, the country's food grain stocks are expected to rise to 74 million tonnes by June-end, compared with the available storage capacity of about 64 million tonnes".
The situation becomes more pathetic when it is conceded that the MSP policy of the government is attracting farmers to dump their grains at the doorsteps of FCI which has no idea where the newly procured grains are going to be stored! It is known during the last few years that precious little has been done to establish a sound storage infrastructure for long term and safe storage of procured grains. Every citizen in this country has to hang his head in shame when it is universally known that the food grains stored in FCI grain storage structures are of very low quality with substantial portion unfit for human consumption!. In stead of finding ways and means to remedy this situation, the great policy paralysis and bureaucratic inertia at the government level is continuing to bleed the nation grievously. It is time that government takes proactive steps to address these woes through concrete action rather than indulging in bald and meaningless proclamations without any substance.