Sep 7, 2018
Storage of foodgrains in large silos is gaining pace in India to overcome huge wastage of food faced every year due to lack of storage facilities at required regions.
At present India stacks foodgrains in outmoded warehouses, godowns and sheds without any use of modern storage technology. This approach resulted in damage of foodgrains worth $14 billion every year. According to United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, 194 million Indians go hungry every day. Thus, the necessity of the changing time decides the action for present and future.
In a survey by UN, in 2010, India produced 68 million tonnes of fruits and 129MT of vegetables and was the second largest agricultural and horticultural producer in the world. The sad part is that out of this harvest, about 30 per cent of the fruit and vegetables were wasted. India wasted an estimated 1.94 lakh tonnes of foodgrain between 2005 and March 2013.
World-wide accepted, Silo storage, in not new in India as it was introduced a decade back. Now the perceptions of better storage are changing in the wake of the wastage across the value chain. Silo structures follow a systematic and scientific method of storing grains, which enables bulk preservation of produce for longer periods.
“We forayed into this business to improve storage and transport infrastructure for foodgrains in India. The larger goal was to address the country’s food security concerns,” said Pranav Adani, Managing Director, Agro, Oil & Gas at Adani Group.
Adani Agri Logistics Ltd was one of the earliest to adopt silo storage, the only silo storage operator in the country. The firm has the capacity of 8.75 lakh tonnes, and another 4 lakh tonnes silos are being built across country. Adani Agri has a presence in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, handling some 1 million tonnes of foodgrain for the Central and State governments with the entire quantity stored in silos. The company is planning to have silo storage capacity of 2 million tonnes by 2022.
To solve the wastage problem, apart from Adani, LT Foods, National Collateral Management Ltd, Shree Kartikeyan Industries and Total Shipping and Logistics Corporation are building 21.5 lakh tonnes of silo capacity.
There are two types of silos: one is silos with rail connectivity and the second is standalone silos without rail connectivity.
“We realised that silos are the ideal mode of storage, particularly for a nation such as India which depends on buffer stock for its food security. The concept also benefits all the stakeholders, be it farmers, government or procuring agencies,” says Pranav Adani.
India stores around 65MT of foodgrains, most of which is in conventional style like open or covered godowns. In fact, more than 10MT of foodgrains are stored in open warehouses and are prone to damage and exposed to various weather conditions.
According to the World Economic Forum, food production has never been a concern for India. In fact, India produced more than 270MT of food in 2016-17, way higher than the annual requirement of 230MT to feed its teeming population. These figures put the focal point back on the use of new technology for grain storage.
“Punjab, and to a large extent, Haryana are known as the bread baskets of India. Nearly two-thirds of the foodgrain requirement is sourced from these two States. A better silo storage infrastructure could certainly ensure that fewer people go hungry in the country,” said Rajeev Kumar, Area Manager, Food Corporation of India (FCI) at Moga district in Punjab, adding that India needs to tap into advanced grain storage infrastructure.