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Up-gradation of Laboratory at IGMRI Hapur

With widespread use of pesticides by farmers, from whom procurement of food grains for the Central Pool is done, possibilities of presence of pesticide residues in the Central Pool food grains cannot be ruled out. In addition, pesticides are also used for preservation of Central Pool stocks by FCI, CWC and State agencies during storage. These applications of pesticides may also affect the quality of food grains. Under Food Safety and Standards Act (earlier PFA), 2006, maximum limits of various refractions and adulterants in different food items have been prescribed to ensure that these are fit for human consumption.

At times, the Central Pool stocks of food grains also get affected by rains, high humidity, particularly during their storage and handling and thus, get damaged and infected by fungi, this results in presence of mycotoxins. Similarly, attack of storage insect pests results in deterioration of quality of food grains due to presence of uric acid, etc

Therefore, to ensure that the Central Pool food grains meet all the quality specifications at all times and risks of adverse impact on the consumers are eliminated, it is imperative to analyse from time to time the Central Pool stocks for the presence of pesticide residues, mycotoxin contamination, uric acid, etc.

In view of the above, additional facilities of pesticide residue and mycotoxin contamination in food grains available at IGMRI Hapur is being upgraded under 12th Five Year Plan scheme. The training infrastructure and physico-chemical laboratories at IGMRI, Hapur have already been upgraded.

New plan scheme "Strengthening Quality Control Mechanism"

To strengthen the quality control mechanism and monitoring of quality of food grains at the time of procurement, storage and distribution so as to avoid damages/losses during storage, a new plan component "Strengthening of Quality Control Mechanism” has been included during the 12th Five Year Plan with two ongoing plan schemes (Strengthening of PDS & Capacity Building and Quality Control, Consultancies & Research) which have been merged on the advice of the Planning Commission. An amount of Rs 23.30 crores has been approved for the new plan component for 12th Five Year Plan. There are three components; (a) opening up of new Quality Control Cells to augment the quality control mechanism, (b) up-gradation of Laboratories at IGMRI Hapur and (c ) capacity building for skill up-gradation.

  • opening up of new Quality Control Cells to augment the quality control mechanism,
  • Up-gradation of Laboratories at IGMRI Hapur and
  • capacity building for skill up-gradation.

Opening up of new Quality Control Cells

It is proposed under the Plan component to open following seven new Quality Control Cells at Guwahati, Patna, Chandigarh, Jammu, Jaipur, Chennai and Ahmedabad. Process for opening a new Quality Control Cell in Patna (Bihar) has already been initiated and three more QCCs at Ahmedabad, Chennai and Guwahati are to be set up during the current financial year.

Up-gradation of Laboratory at IGMRI, Hapur

To ensure that the Central Pool food grains meet the quality specifications, it is imperative to regularly analyse the Central Pool stocks for prescribed uniform specifications and for the presence of pesticide residues, mycotoxin contamination, uric acid, etc. Existing infrastructure of physico-chemical laboratory has been upgraded at IGMRI Hapur. The process of procurement of equipments has been started through e-tendering. National Institute of Plant Health Management (NIPHM), Hyderabad has been engaged as a consultant in October, 2014 for setting up modern facilities for pesticides residue and mycotoxin contamination analysis at IGMRI, Hapur under the plan scheme.

Capacity Building for skill up-gradation

In view of the shortage of technically qualified staff with the State Government agencies engaged in procurement, storage and distribution of food grains and Government encouraging the decentralized procurement scheme under which State Governments and their agencies procure, store and distribute the food grains directly without involvement of FCI, the training requirements for the staff of the State Governments and their agencies is need of the hour. Training infrastructure of IGMRI Hapur has been upgraded to make it a Centre of Excellence for capacity building in post harvest management of food grains with the help of Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC).

Mechanism of Quality Control of food grains during Procurement, Storage and Distribution

There are well defined quality control norms specified by the Government for procurement of good quality food grains for distribution under TPDS. Prior to commencement of Rabi and Kharif Procurement Seasons, Department of Food & Public Distribution formulates uniform specifications for procurement of good quality food grains for Central Pool. These uniform specifications are circulated to FCI, all State Governments and their agencies with the instructions to ensure that food grains strictly conforming to these uniform specifications should be procured by them.

Facilities for cleaning and drying of food grains are to be provided at procurement centres by State Governments so that good quality food grains well within the uniform specifications are procured by FCI and State agencies. Moisture meter, physical analysis kits, etc. are also to be provided at the procurement centres. There are instructions that proper stitching and stenciling on grain bags should be carried out. Dunnage material, tarpaulin and other materials for safe storage of procured food stocks are also to be provided. The Quality Control officers of FCI and State Governments have to regularly monitor the quality of food grains at the time of procurement.

Procured food grains are to be stored in covered godowns as well as under CAP (Covered & Plinth) storage (wheat and paddy only) for varying periods. During storage, scientific code of practices for safe storage of food grains is to be adopted by FCI and State agencies. Regular prophylactic and curative treatments are to be carried out for the control of insect pests. Proper aeration, cleaning and brushing (of food grains bags) need to be done regularly in storage.

Quality Control officers of FCI and State agencies have to regularly monitor the quality of food grains including category of food grains and insect infestation, if any, and suggest immediate remedial measures. These inspections and remedial measures are to be displayed on the stack card of each stack in the godown. If during inspection/supervision damage to food grains stocks is noticed, it should be investigated thoroughly and immediate deterrent/strict action should be taken against the delinquents.

Similarly, at the time of distribution of food grains to States/UTs, there is a well defined procedure of joint inspection/sampling of the stocks by State Government authority and FCI to ensure that only good quality food grains conforming to Food Safety Standards are issued under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and other welfare schemes. This department has issued following instructions to Food Secretaries of all State Governments/Union Territory Administrations and FCI to ensure supply of good quality food grains under the TPDS:

  • Only good quality food grains free from insect infestation and conforming to Food Safety Standards are to be issued under TPDS.
  • Ample opportunities are to be provided to the State Government to check the quality of food grains prior lifting the food grains stocks from FCI godowns.
  • Samples of food grains are to be collected and sealed from the stocks of food grains to be issued under the TPDS jointly by FCI and State Food & Civil Supplies Department.
  • An officer not below the rank of Inspector is to be deputed from State Government to take the delivery of food grains stocks from FCI godowns.
  • Regular inspection to check the quality of food grains is to be carried out by the officers of State Government and surprise checks are carried out by the officers of Quality Control Cell of the Ministry
  • It is the responsibility of the concerned State Government/ UT Administration to ensure that during transportation and storage at different stages in the distribution chain, the food grains retain the required quality specifications.
  • The State Government, where the decentralized procurement is in operation, should ensure that the quality of food grains issued under TPDS and other welfare schemes should meet the desired standards under the Food Safety and Standards Act.

Wherever incidence of distribution of poor quality of food grains to consumers is brought to the notice, immediate action has to be taken against the officials found responsible.

Although every effort is being made by Government of India to maintain the quality of food grains, but it is also the responsibility of the State Government/UT, for ensuring the same in the Public Distribution System. Trainings are also organized by Government of India for the officials of State Governments/UTs engaged in handling of food grain through IGMRI, Hapur & its field stations at Ludhiana and Hyderabad.

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