New Delhi: The acute shortage of manpower in the northern region of Food Corporation of India (FCI) has hampered the functioning of the department. Presently more than seven thousand posts for officials and employees are lying vacant in the northern zone of the department. Out of which, there are more than 1,500 posts lying vacant in Uttar Pradesh (UP) alone.

As a result of the staff crisis, most of the Central Purchase Centres are yet to make any procurement from the farmers. During his visit, Food Minister KV Thomas had assured farmers that their entire agricultural yield will be procured by the Purchase centres.

FCI staff union has already informed KV Thomas about the lack of manpower. In this regard, Thomas after reaching Delhi asked the FCI management to exercise vigorously and fill the remaining vacancies.

Interestingly, against the 20,000 sanctioned posts in the northern zone, FCI has only 12,000 employees. In UP, FCI has only 3,000 employees against the sanctioned strength of 4,500.

Last year, FCI had 510 Purchase Centres in UP, and this year the number has gone down to 50. A total of 2.88 billion tonnes wheat production is estimated in UP for current season. Ironically, despite the claims, FCI has set the target to procure only one million ton wheat. Whereas the target set by state agencies for wheat procurement is for 39 million tones. Last year too, similar targets were set by FCI and the state agencies. However, against the claims, state agencies procured 16 million tonnes wheat, and FCI could purchase 25 thousand ton wheat from the state farmers.

Owing to the manpower shortage, it appears unlikely that FCI will be in a condition to procure the entire agricultural yield.  

Food Ministry’s argument in this regard is appalling. According to Food Ministry officials, the condition of farmers condition in UP has deteriorated because of the decentralized structure for procurement, as state agencies control the responsibilities in this regard.