Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said today that India - the world's second-biggest producer of rice, wheat and sugar - needs 14 million tonnes of extra storage capacity to stockpile food grains and prevent spoilage. The government needs to spend 4,000 crore to fill the ''storage gap,'' he said.
Inaugurating the state food secretaries' meet on streamlining the public distribution system (PDS) in New Delhi, he said the state-owned Food Corp of India will hire warehouses from private trading companies to store record volumes of rice and wheat bought from farmers.
Pawar also said another major challenge is sustaining the level of production and procurement of foodgrains for the future.
The conference assumes significance as the government is working on ensuring food security across the country. The National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Sonia Gandhi, which is reworking the draft food security bill, will meet on ere Wednesday and give its recommendations on widening the content and target of the proposed legislation.
Working groups earlier held separate discussions on various issues to make use of the best practices in PDS and achieve their universal adoption.