FCI celebrates 60 years of nourishing India; minister highlights achievements and modernization drive

Addressing the event, Minister Goyal underscored the need for the FCI to maintain transparency in its operations and embrace digital technologies to enhance efficiency and quality. He urged the organization to explore avenues to manage expenses effectively, acknowledging the vital role it plays in maintaining India’s food security.

On the 60th anniversary of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Union Minister of Food, Commerce, and Consumer Affairs Piyush Goyal commended India’s self-sufficiency in food, hailing it as one of the “greatest achievements in human history.” Speaking on Sunday, 14th January 2024. Goyal emphasized the crucial role played by the FCI in ensuring that no citizen in the world’s most populous country goes to bed hungry.

Addressing the event, Minister Goyal underscored the need for the FCI to maintain transparency in its operations and embrace digital technologies to enhance efficiency and quality. He urged the organization to explore avenues to manage expenses effectively, acknowledging the vital role it plays in maintaining India’s food security.

The FCI, a statutory organization responsible for managing the government’s granaries, has been instrumental in achieving food self-sufficiency. Through its procurement process at federally fixed minimum support prices (MSP), it buys millions of tonnes of farm produce from Indian farmers, preventing distress sales. This food is then distributed free of cost to 800 million impoverished citizens under the National Food Security Act.

Recognizing the historical significance of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in establishing the federal food agency, Minister Goyal highlighted the ongoing modernization efforts of the FCI. These include the implementation of automated weighing bridges, closed-circuit cameras, and mechanized loading of freight to enhance operational efficiency.

During the anniversary celebration, Union Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra and FCI’s Chairman-cum-Managing Director Ashok K Meena presented mementoes to past directors and accomplished sportspersons employed by the agency. These individuals have brought global fame to the FCI, receiving accolades such as Olympic medals and Arjuna Awards, India’s highest sports honour.

Minister Goyal emphasized the critical role of the FCI in India’s development journey, stating that there is “no place for complacency.” He highlighted the agency’s contribution to strengthening every child through food security by purchasing food from farmers and distributing it to the less privileged.

The FCI’s market interventions, wherein it sells grains to bulk buyers, have played a vital role in lowering inflation and stabilizing supplies. Despite the current export ban on onions, the FCI continues to purchase them at fair prices, balancing the interests of consumers and farmers.

In the fiscal year 2022-23, the FCI procured 76.56 million tonnes of paddy and 26.2 million tonnes of wheat from approximately 12.3 million cultivators. This amounted to a total payout of ₹2.19 lakh crore, contributing to the government’s food subsidy bill.

The agency’s commitment to modernization extends to countrywide operations, where it has introduced artificial intelligence-based equipment to detect fraud in processes involving millions of farmers and a vast network of transporters and silos. These advancements underscore the FCI’s dedication to ensuring efficiency, transparency, and continued success in its mission to nourish the nation.