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ANALYSIS

NFSA, 2013 implemented across India; Beneficial to 80.72 crore persons
Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
The following were the major accomplishments of the department of food and public distribution during the year 2017:

Implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013
Persistent efforts have resulted in the implementation of the NFSA, 2013 in all 36 states and Union Territories (UTs), benefiting 80.72 crore persons in the country by providing them access to highly-subsidised foodgrains at Re 1, 2 and 3 per kg for coarse grains, wheat and rice respectively.

The prices of foodgrains specified under NFSA – Rs 3 per kg for rice, Rs 2 per kg for wheat and Re 1 per kg for coarse grains – were valid upto July, 2016. They have been continued upto June 2018.

During financial year (FY) 2017-18 (upto December 13, 2017), Rs 2,959.22 crore has been released to state governments as Central assistance to meet the expenditure incurred on intra-state movement of foodgrains and fair price shop dealers’ margins. Such an arrangement has been made for the first time under NFSA, 2013. Under the erstwhile Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), the state governments were required to either meet this expenditure on their own or pass it on to beneficiaries [other than the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) beneficiaries].

End-to-end computerisation of TPDS operations
As an outcome of digitisation of ration card/beneficiary records, de-duplication due to Aadhaar seeding, transfer, migration or deaths, change in economic status of beneficiaries and during the run-up to and implementation of NFSA, a total of 2.75 crore ration cards have either been deleted or cancelled by state or Union Territory (UT) governments between 2013 and 2017 (up to November 2017). Based on this, the government has been able to achieve an estimated rightful targeting of food subsidies of about Rs 17,500 crore per annum.

To modernise and to bring about transparency in the TPDS, the department is implementing a scheme on end-to-end computerisation of TPDS operations at a total cost of Rs 884 crore on cost-sharing basis with the states and UTs. The scheme provides for digitisation of ration cards and beneficiary records, computerisation of supply chain management, setting up of transparency portals and grievance redressal mechanisms.

The key achievements under the scheme are as follows:


Serial Number

Schematic Activity

Achievement

1

Digitisation of ration cards/ beneficiaries data

Completed in all states and UTs

2

Online allocation of food grains

Started in 30 states and UTs

3

Computerisation of supply chain management

Completed in 20 states and UTs, and the work is in progress in the remaining states and UTs.

4

Transparency portals

Set up in all states and UTs

5

Grievance redressal facilities

Either or both toll-free helplines and online registration facility is available in all states and UTs



To identify and weed out duplicate/ineligible beneficiaries, and to enable rightful targeting of food subsidies, seeding of Aadhaar numbers of beneficiaries with their ration cards is being done by states and UTs. Presently, 81.35 per cent of all ration cards have been seeded.

As part of the scheme, electronic point of sale (ePoS) devices are being installed at fair price shops (FPSs) for distribution of foodgrains through authentication and electronic record-keeping of the sale transactions. As on date, 2.83 lakh FPSs in 23 states/UTs out of total 5.27 lakh FPSs have ePoS devices.

Launch of hybrid model of DBT
A pilot scheme on DBT (in cash and in kind) on the pattern of Pahal has been launched in Nagri Block of Ranchi District, Jharkhand, with effect from October 2017. Under this scheme, the subsidy amount (the economic cost less the central issue price) is directly transferred into the bank account of the eligible NFSA beneficiaries in advance in the beginning of the month. The beneficiary can then purchase the foodgrains as per the entitlement from the FPS at economic cost of the foodgrains after authentication on the PoS device. The central issue price is contributed by the beneficiary. This model enables continued support to the procurement exercise from farmers at the minimum support price (MSP), while disincentivising any leakage of food grains from the public distribution system (PDS).

Intra-state portability of ration cards
Facility-enabling PDS beneficiaries to lift their entitled foodgrains from any fair price shop in the state where the ePoS device has been installed has been started in the states/UTs of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh (750 FPSs), and Telangana (2,273 FPSs).

Integrated Management of PDS (IM-PDS)
A new Central sector scheme has been approved to be implemented during FY 2018-19 and FY 2019-20 for establishing the public distribution system network (PDSN) to implement national-level portability, Central data repository and Central monitoring system of PDS operations.

Launch of ePoS transactions portal
Annavitran Portal (www.annavitran.nic.in) has been implemented to display electronic transactions made through ePoS devices for distribution of subsidised foodgrains to beneficiaries. This portal also shows the all-India picture of Aadhaar authentication of beneficiaries, besides an allocated and distributed quantity of foodgrains up to the district level.

Supporting the farmer
During kharif market season (KMS) 2016-17, a record quantity of 381.07 lakh metric ton (LMT) paddy (in terms of rice) was procured. In KMS 2015-16 it was 342.18 LMT. During rabi market season (RMS) 2017-18, a quantity of 308.24 LMT of wheat was procured, which was the highest in last five years. In 2016-17, this was 229.61 LMT.

Improving foodgrain management
A new guideline on usage charges for packaging of procured paddy from KMS 2017-18 onwards has been implemented in consultation with all states and the Food Corporation of India (FCI). It is estimated that the said policy could result in savings of approximately Rs 600 crore each season.

About 40 million tonne of food grains are transported by FCI across the country in a year. The movement of food grains is undertaken by rail, road, sea, coastal and riverine systems. In 2016-17, 13 containerised movements were undertaken which led to freight savings of about Rs 44 lakh. In 2017-18, FCI moved 58 container rakes (as on October 15, 2017) leading to freight savings of approximately Rs 159 lakh.

Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA)
The process of registration of warehouses with WDRA has been simplified. The new rules will promote an increase in the number of warehouses registered with WDRA. This would enhance facility of pledge finance for the farmers through the negotiable warehouse receipts (NWR) system. During the year, loans worth Rs 90.35 crore loans have been availed against NWRs so far.

The Electronic Negotiable Warehousing Receipt (eNWR) System and a WDRA portal were launched to transform the process of registration of warehouses online and to issue an e-NWR instead of a paper NWR, which will be a more credible financing tool.

Sugar sector
Due to persistent surplus of sugar stock during the preceding five years, the cane price arrears for 2014-15 sugar season at all India level peaked at Rs 21,837 crore as on April 15, 2015. In order to facilitate the clearance of cane price arrears, the Central government took various initiatives, viz providing soft loans worth Rs 4,305 crore, providing financial assistance of Rs 425 crore through the raw sugar export incentive scheme, providing production subsidy of about Rs 539 crore to offset cost of cane and facilitate timely payment of cane price dues of farmers for the sugar season 2015-16. As a consequence of these measures, 99.33 per cent of cane dues payments of farmers for 2014-15 sugar season and 99.77 per cent [on a fair and remunerative price (FRP) basis] for 2015-16 sugar season have been cleared. About 99.47 per cent of cane dues on FRP basis have also been cleared in respect of sugar season 2016-17.

Sugar prices remained stable during the year despite low production in the country as a consequence of policy interventions including increasing of import duty on sugar and allowing only a limited quantity of imports restricted to deficient regions in the country. The policies not only ensured stable prices, but also did not disrupt the domestic production and enabled the sugar mills to pay the farmers their cane dues on time.

Export of foodgrains from the Central pool stock
The government of India provided food grains as humanitarian food assistance to the following countries during 2017:

Serial Number

Country

Quantity (in metric tonne)

1

Sri Lanka

100

2

Zimbabwe

500

3

Lesotho

500

4

Namibia

1,000


Further a quantity of 1.10 lakh MT of wheat has also been approved for donation to Afghanistan, and supply from FCI’s stocks is under progress.

 
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