Shaping Sustainable Food Systems with Storage Infrastructure

India’s Agriculture Sector

  • Second-largest agricultural land globally.
  • Food production increased significantly (244 million tonnes in 2010-11 to 310 million tonnes in 2021-22).
  • Aims to be a developed nation by 2047.

Food Waste and Losses

  • Global food waste: 14% after harvest, 17% at retail and consumer level (FAO 2019, UNEP 2021).
  • India: Losses amount to Rs. 92,651 crore annually.

Importance of Storage Infrastructure

  • Reduces food waste.
  • Enhances food security and access.
  • Supports Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) – world’s largest social welfare scheme.
  • Strengthens food systems through various government initiatives.

Sustainable Food Systems

  • Requires storage infrastructure for resilience and food availability.
  • Scientific storage methods can minimize losses to 1-2%.
  • Warehouses, silos, and cold storage facilities are crucial.

Government Initiatives

  • Food Corporation of India (FCI) manages storage infrastructure.
  • Current capacity: 371.93 LMT, Shortage: 166 MMT.
  • “World’s Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector”: Pilot project to create decentralized storage at Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS).
  • NABARD provides financial support to PACS for storage facilities.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • Food grain storage supports achieving SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production).

Way Forward

  • Promote decentralized storage systems.
  • Increase investment in modernization of storage, logistics, and food processing.
  • Achieve sustainable development goals and become a developed nation.



Institutionalized Management of Food Security in India

India’s Population and Food Security Schemes

  • Population: 1.4 billion (17.5% of global total).
  • Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) distributes free food grains to 81.35 crore people.

Food Corporation of India (FCI): Ensuring Food Security

  • Established in 1965 to address food scarcity.
  • Achievements:
    • Increased food production through Green Revolution.
    • Provides remunerative prices to farmers.
    • Maintains buffer stock for emergencies.
    • Stabilizes market prices.

Storage Operations for Food Grains

  • Importance of proper storage for quality preservation.
  • Food grains like wheat and rice can be stored for 1-4 years.
  • Regular inspections by trained professionals.
  • FIFO (First-In-First-Out) principle for grain use.
  • Pest control measures (malathion, deltamethrin, fumigation).

Storage Capacity

  • FCI storage space: 761.29 lakh MT (125 times higher than 1965 capacity).
  • Owned storage: 363.69 lakh MT.
  • Storage with state agencies: 397.60 lakh MT.

Transportation and Distribution

  • Multimodal transportation: railways, roadways, waterways.
  • Wheat: transported from Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Rice: transported from various states to deficit areas.
  • Distribution through 5.45 lakh Fair Price Shops (FPSs) across India.

Technology Integration

  • Depot-on-Line System (DoS) for inventory management.
  • GPS-enabled Vehicle Tracking System (VLTS).
  • Linking rice mills with depots for delivery.
  • Allocation of Warehouse In-Grain Space System (WINGS) for transparency.


  • FCI’s food supply chain ensures food security nationwide.
  • Modernization and stakeholder collaboration are ongoing for continuous improvement.



Mega Food Storage Plan in India

Challenges of Food Storage in India

  • India: Second-largest foodgrain producer (310 MMT annually).
  • Storage capacity: 145 MMT (gap of 166 MMT).
  • Existing infrastructure stores only 47% of production.
  • High post-harvest losses (10-16% cereals, 26% wheat, 34% fruits/vegetables).

World’s Largest Grain Storage Plan

  • Launched by the Ministry of Cooperation.
  • Network of storage facilities through Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS).
  • Aims to increase storage capacity by 70 MMT in the cooperative sector.
  • Includes warehouses, processing units, silos, custom hiring centers.

Importance of the Plan

  • India: Largest population (1.4 billion) with limited cultivable land (1%).
  • Runs world’s largest food program (National Food Security Act, 2013).
  • Strengthens food security and reduces dependence on imports.
  • Creates rural employment opportunities.
  • Empowers PACS and leverages cooperatives (“Sahakar se Samriddhi”).

Implementing Agencies

  • National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) with NABARD, NABARD Consultancy Services, Central Warehousing Corporation, and Food Corporation of India.

Benefits of Increased Storage

  • Reduced transportation costs for farmers.
  • More control for farmers over selling produce based on market conditions.
  • Computerized real-time monitoring systems for modern silos.
  • Stable and consistent food grain supply across the country.

Challenges of the Plan

  • Potential conflicts with Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) involved in post-harvest handling.
  • Management and maintenance of new infrastructure.
  • Ensuring food quality through improved storage technology.
  • Overlapping responsibilities of multiple institutions.
  • Potential for policies to benefit medium/large farmers over small/marginal farmers.

Possible Solutions

  • Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model for implementation.
  • Prioritization of modernizing existing storage infrastructure.
  • Adequate storage facilities for horticultural crops.
  • Addressing food losses exceeding Rs. 1,40,000 crore annually.



Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Food Storage Infrastructure

India’s Food Processing Sector

  • Market size: Potential of US$ 535 billion by 2025.
  • Need for modernization: Shanta Kumar Committee (2015) recommends modern storage for improved quality, reduced losses, and private sector investment.

Opportunities in Food Storage

  • Agrifood supply chain: Production, processing, aggregation & distribution, retailing, marketing.
  • Challenges: Food supply, security, and waste present opportunities for innovation.

Government Schemes and Programs

  • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) supports:
    • Mega food parks.
    • Cold chain infrastructure.
    • Food processing and preservation capacities.
    • Agro-processing clusters.

Specific Schemes

  1. Mega Food Parks: Links production to markets through a cluster approach.
  2. Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation: Provides cold chain infrastructure along the food processing supply chain.
  3. Creation of Food Processing and Preservation Capacities: Aims to reduce wastage through increased processing and value addition.
  4. Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages: Provides financial assistance for setting up processing centers, collection centers, and modern retail outlets.
  5. Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure: Creates infrastructure for ensuring food safety and quality.
  6. Agro Processing Cluster: Encourages a group of entrepreneurs to set up food processing units through a cluster-based approach.
  7. PM Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PMFME): Provides financial, technical, and business support for upgrading existing micro food processing enterprises.
  8. Common Facility Centres (CFCs) under MSE-CDP: Offers export promotion facilities for Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) like processing, storage, packaging, etc.
  9. Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH): Provides financial assistance for setting up pre-cooling units, cold rooms, pack houses, and other storage and preservation facilities.


Affordable food storage facilities are crucial to reduce food waste and empower small farmers. These government schemes offer significant opportunities for entrepreneurs in the food storage sector.



Making India the Food Basket of the World

Global Hunger and India’s Potential

  • 828 million people worldwide suffer from hunger.
  • India: Second-largest producer of wheat and rice (staple foods).
  • Favorable conditions: Cultivable land, diverse seasons, established agribusiness.
  • Exports wheat to 70 countries and rice to 150 countries.

Strengths for Becoming a Food Supplier

  • Millets:
    • India: Largest producer of millets globally.
    • Pearl millet (bajra) and sorghum (jowar) contribute 19% of world production (2020).
    • “Super Food Bucket” initiative promotes millets as “Shree Anna” (sacred grain).
    • UN International Year of Millets (2023).
    • High-yielding and bio-fortified varieties for increased production and health benefits.
  • Food Processing Industry:
    • Crucial for linking farmers to consumers domestically and internationally.
    • Expected to double in size in the next ten years (US$ 543 billion by 2025).

Challenges and Opportunities

  • Food Supply Chain:
    • India has the potential to be a leading food supplier.
    • Complex system with perishable goods and numerous small stakeholders.
    • Opportunity to improve efficiency through data integration, information sharing, and agile logistics.
  • Food Packaging:
    • Emerging as a key factor for reaching consumers in a competitive market.

Importance of Standards

  • Two types of standards:
    • Food standards: content, manufacturing process, packaging.
    • Logistics and IT standards: uniformity of cartons, pallets, software.
  • Enhanced efficiency and seamless transfer of goods and information.
  • Increased global food trade necessitates stricter food safety measures.


India has the land, resources, and agricultural system to become the world’s largest food supplier. Investments in cold chain, processing facilities, and food retail are crucial for success.


ODOP for Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PMFME)


  • Launched by the Government of India for inclusive development and export potential.
  • Part of the Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PMFME) Scheme.
  • Aims to:
    • Improve access to financial assistance for technological upgrades.
    • Enhance capacity building through skill training and support services.
    • Support Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), Self-Help Groups (SHGs), and Cooperatives.
    • Formalize existing informal entities into agri-based businesses.


  • 137 unique products approved in 713 districts across 35 states and UTs.
  • Branding and marketing support for FPOs, SHGs, and Cooperatives as “Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs)”.
  • Onboarding of sellers on e-commerce platforms for increased visibility.
  • Top performing states: Maharashtra, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Telangana.
  • Financial Assistance:
    • Individual micro-enterprises: capital subsidy (35% of project cost, max Rs. 10 lakhs).
    • FPOs, SHGs, and producer cooperatives: credit-linked grant (35% for capital investment).

Value Chain Development

  • Common Infrastructure:Shared facilities for FPOs, SHGs, and Cooperatives, with private enterprises using them on a hiring basis.
  • Cluster Development:
    • Multiple clusters per product per district or across districts.
    • Supports strengthening forward and backward linkages (facilities, skilling, marketing, branding).
  • Value Addition:Cluster-based approach for storage, processing, and marketing of ODOP products.
  • Branding and Marketing:Common branding, packaging, and standards.

Institutional Architecture

  • Committees at district, state, and national level for planning, execution, and monitoring.

ODOP Prospects and Benefits

  • Local and community development: in-situ employment, empowering women and youth.
  • Promotes and preserves local best practices and micro-enterprises.
  • Skilling, upskilling, reskilling, and training of local talent.
  • Local to global approach.


  • ODOP’s bottom-up approach contributes to integrated development of India.
  • Effective implementation of ODOP, along with public policy support, infrastructure, and marketing, will strengthen the economy and achieve “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India).


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