Wastage of grain and Indian farmers suicides: why Govt. is so sleepy?

The land of Indian subcontinent has been known for its prosperous farming endeavor since time immemorial.  Countless people in rural India survive on farming and growing crops for the nationwide population. The farmers sustain all weather extremities, poverty and physical challenges to continue with the hardships of farming and still they are greatly deprived of all sorts of basic facilities of being an Indian citizen that includes food, residence and cloths. This is indeed a matter of shame to the entire country; however this is not the end of the story. In the past few years, farmers’ suicide in India has become one of the most speculated topics in policy analysis, academic narratives and newspaper bulletins. The severe agricultural crisis in India is certainly the primary cause of farmers choosing suicide as their last resort. Furthermore it vividly reflects the government’s negligence and indifference to the issue of food grain storage in India which requires much importance.

Facts about Indian Agriculture and grains production: Demand and Supply

According to various estimations, India is the home to one fourth of the entire world’s distressed and hunger-stricken population. Almost 218 million people in India suffer from malnutrition and related diseases. However on the other side of the scenario, millions worth of food grains simply get wasted at the government warehouses! Shocking indeed but unfortunately it is true. This has been a common affair in India that almost 38% of food grains rot while stack up in the Government go downs every year. If only these grains were saved, the entire country could have received their lawful share of food. Instead of putting light on this problem government officials and ministers often suggest unreasonable remedies.

India itself produces enough grain to feed the entire population without importing grains from neighboring countries. But unfortunately one third of the total production is wasted as the government go downs lack proper storage facilities.

What is the Reason behind Wastage of grain and farmers suicides?

In this case, the immediate question that passes one’s mind is that why isn’t the government distributing the excess grains among people who are starved to death every year? Since Govt. has no proper go downs and cold stores so they could not store extra grains and vegetables, so one side farmers has no buyer for their crops and they are exploited by middlemen forced to sell their crops at dirt cheap rates and other side market has huge demand but less supply ant you get these things at higher prices, which saw rise in food inflation. Recent example is , farmers in Punjab throw  potatoes on roads since there was no buyer for these or buyers giving them dirt cheap rates. This all happen because lack of proper cold stores and corruption of middlemen, who are also responsible for increasing the prices of vegetables and hence food inflation.

Farmers in India are oppressed by all means. They are compelled to take loans from the money-lenders who are shrewd enough to loot the farmers of their minimal possessions.   Still these hardworking rural cults of India do not get their share of money, facilities and food, thanks to the middle mans who act as an intermediate communicator between the farmers and buyers. Hence the farmer families are forced to starve day after day with their kids and women. This is the root cause of overwhelming frustration and depression of the farmers that make them choose suicide as the last resort.

What can be done?

The food and agriculture ministry should take immediate initiative to prevent grains and crops wastage by making proper cold stores and go downs where grain and vegetables can be stored and make sure that the farmers get easy loans and suitable price for their crops.FDI in retail sector(vegetable and food retail) could help in improving situation because this will give farmers contract farming opportunities and they will make proper cold stores to store this, so farmers will not suffer wastage of their grain due to unavailability of storage which cause their crops go wasted with no buyer.  It will not only resolve the problems of Indian agriculture but also bestow the poor peasants with a life to live!


  • Dr Sanjay Agarwal

    very few persons in India know what are the basic problem in
    storage / warehousing of food in India, It most unfortunate that the Central
    Pool reached 65 million MT in 2011-2012, but total storage capacity available
    with FCI , CWC, 17 state SWCs are only 33millions MT and 5 million MT is
    arranged from other agencies like NAFED, PCF etc. So there is acute deficit of
    30 Million MT in last crop season and on 1/4/2012 more the 20Million MT wheat
    was store openly across India. It will be shocking fact for you that Under
    Gramin Bhandaran Yojana 20 Million MT godowns are constructed in last 6-7 years
    by private entrepreneurs. But not a single Godowns hire by the GOI, FCI CWC for
    storage.  Most of these private godowns are lying un-utelized for last 3
    seasons (2009) due to Ban on export of Wheat And Certain varity of the rice.
    Prevoiusly these godowns hired by Private traders like Adani, ITC, NCMSL, NBHC
    . LD commodiltes, But due to ban no private group in involving in wheat
    procurement and storage, even ITC has the licence for storage of 5 Million MT
    of wheat procurement and storage for last five years but in last three wheat
    season not procure any wheat in UP. Majority of the private godowns owner
    do not want their godown to let FCI and its associate partners because FCI do
    not hire godowns directly but hire through CWC or 17 SWCs with service
    Agreement.,The CWC and SWCs hire these godowns with out service agreements. and
    give a rent upto Rs. 2/- per square foot per month, and the 10,000 MT godowns
    the rent come out to be Rs.1 lac per month. The present cost of the 10 000
    MT godown is more the Rs.225 lacs and recurring cost per month is more then Rs.
    75,000/- and the banks are charging interest more then 16.5% per annum on the
    term loan. The interest is usually more then Rs. 2lac per month. Now you
    can imaging who a Private owner like to rent out the godown to Government
    agencies. because he has to pay Rs. 2.75 lacs per month for the interest and
    recurring cost beside he has to repay the principle loan amount. Due to
    our efforts this year Government of India realised the issue in detail and made
    some changes. now first time the Government of UP forcefully acquisit these
    godowns but the rent payable will be as per government of UP policy which
    allows Rs. 2/0 per square foot per month rent. this may be a counter
    productive step in warehousing of food because further no private entrepreneur
    will come in warehousing. but by this activity GOI & FCI increase its over
    all capacity to 52.5 Million MT. Very soon you will hear about writ
    petitions against these acquisition and rate payable by Government. If you
    want any further detail you may contact me. Email :- krishna_warehouse@yahoo.com