Fears about plastic rice being sold in place of the real thing is the result of a misunderstanding or misconception, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) explained today, as it is more expensive to produce plastic rather than real rice.
At a press conference here today, FCI General Manager SK Yadav explained that rice could have some elasticity when cooked and some people then assume that the grains are in fact plastic.
However, miscreants would not be willing to make and sell plastic rice as it is more expensive to produce. Nevertheless, he said that the FCI investigates every complaint made.
“I invite you, if you do get any such complaint of plastic rice or any other quality issue, we will take it in a very positive way. We would rather invite you to some of our godowns and you can visit anytime,” the told reporters. “I don’t think we have received a single quality complaint from any state government.”
When asked about the measures the FCI takes to ensure that quality rice comes into the state, he said that during procurement of rice, the FCI has six-seven layers of internal checks.
“First of all, our technical experts, who have agricultural backgrounds or food related qualifications, accept the stocks after various quality checks.”
After that, there are two categories of officers who randomly carry out fortnightly checking of stocks. Beyond that, there are regional level, zonal level and headquarter-level super checks. Even after these super checks, some samples are randomly sent to designated labs.
At the time of release of these stocks to a state government, one sample is given to the state government and one retained by the FCI. If at that stage also if there is some quality issue, the state government has the full right to accept or deny those stocks, Yadav said.
Meanwhile, the press conference was called to inform about the ongoing Open Market Sales Scheme Domestic (OMSS(D)) scheme whereby rice and wheat are auctioned in the open market on a weekly basis to keep the prices of both commodities under control.
Yadav said that the augmentation of storage capacity to ensure food security in the North East has increased more than 40 percent in the last three years from 87,070 tonnes to 1,22,636 tonnes.
He said that around 7.5 lakh tonnes of food grains free of cost have been distributed under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) scheme from April 2020 to December 2022.
Yadav also spoke about the fortified rice under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), other welfare schemes and OMSS(D) to ensure food and nutritional security.
Informing that around 88,000 tonnes of storage capacity is in different phases of creation in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura by the FCI, he said that being a hilly state, the capacity creation in the private sector is a big challenge for the FCI.
Despite the challenges, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have seen their capacity increase from 87,000 tonnes to 1,22,636 tonnes today, which is a 40 percent increase despite two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
26,500 tonnes of capacity in Meghalaya is under construction through a private party, he added.