Buffer Stock & Buffer Norms in India
The Food Corporation of India is the main agency for procurement, storage and distribution of food grains. In addition to the requirements of wheat and rice under the Targeted PDS, the Central Pool is required to have sufficient stocks of these in order to meet any emergencies like drought/failures of crop, as well as to enable open market intervention in case of price rise.
What are Buffer Norms?
The Buffer norms are the minimum food grains the Centre should have in the Central pool at the beginning of each quarter to meet requirement of public distribution system and other welfare measures. The last changes in the Buffer norms were done in July 2013. According to the norm the buffer norms of food grains in the Central Pool are follows:
|Revision of buffer norms of foodgrains in the Central Pool|
|As on||Existing since April, 2005||Revised|
|in million tones|
The Central pool requires maximum 41.12 million tonnes o be maintained in the second quarter as on July 1. The FCI has been constructing storage capacity for holding buffer and operational stocks of food grains at nodal points in the country. The storage capacities available with FCI are mainly used for storage of food grains and partly for other commodities and general warehousing.
Objectives of Buffer Stocks
The buffer stocks are required to
- Feed TPDS and other welfare schemes,
- Ensure food security during the periods when production is short of normal demand during bad agricultural years
- Stabilize prices during period of production shortfall through open market sales.
What are the Current Buffer Stocks?
As against the buffer stock norm of 21.41 million tonnes of rice and wheat (as on 1January of each year), total central pool stocks were 61.6 million tonnes as on 1 January 2015. This shows India’s comfortable position in the buffer stock. However, it has raised the questions over the storage capability of the FCI and rotting grains in the open god downs in the country. The issue of storage had also been taken to the Supreme Court, which suggested that government should distribute the grains free to the poor. The problem is immense, but solution of this problem is not instant. The FCI has to increase the storage capacity to accommodate the record procurement which is expected this year because of a very good monsoon.