Coronavirus Lockdown: Is India prepared to meet its food supply needs for next 21 days?

FE Online
milk sector, milk industry

Coronavirus update: All eyes are on India's preparation for next 21 days lockdown! How much food supply do we have? Coming days till April 14 will be crucial in terms of food supply as India goes under nationwide lockdown for the next 21 days as announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While people stay at home to combat Coronavirus, it becomes imperative to check if the country can cater to all the essential needs. When it comes to production or supply of major agri-commodities like food grains, there is no real issue, IE reported.

The report highlighted that as of March 1, Food Corporation of India (FCI) had around 77.6 million tonnes (mt) of wheat and rice stock. This is more than 3.5 times the minimum requirement as well as the buffer that will be needed to maintain by April 1. The report added that the new wheat crop will also arrive next month.

Moreover, the report said, 2.25 mt of pulses are kept with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed). These numbers were recorded on March 19 and rabi pulses like chickpea, red lentils and field peas have started to come in the market. As major rabi crops are already in the last stage of harvesting, the lockdown will not make any such impact in growing the food. While there is no problem with the supply, the report said that the supply chain is facing many issues. The movement of crops or logistics per say, has been affected by restrictions imposed during lockdown across the country. However, the report said this will not impact wheat, pulses and rice.

The supply that is mainly in a slow lane includes fruits and vegetables, and milk products. But the government has ensured that there will not be any problem with essential items which include milk. Meanwhile, as the announcement came, despite the government's assurance of no dearth in essential items, people rushed to food stores to stock up for the basic needs.

Even as people in Delhi and other states were seen lining up in front of Mother Dairy and Safal stores for food items, the central government has instructed the state governments to not close any grocery shop or any other food processing. In states like Uttar Pradesh, the government has announced that it will deliver food to people's doorsteps. For this, it will be putting 10,000 vehicles to use.