Tuesday, September 7, 2010

With the question of rotting food grain staring the government at the Centre, the Union agriculture ministry is likely to push states to replicate the 'Nashik model' under which large quantities of food grain are being distributed at lower price.

Under this model, the food grain are being distributed to 300 villages in Nashik district under the public distribution system (PDS), once in three months, six months or a year. This is in contrast to the monthly distribution system, which is expensive in terms of transportation and is also not effective in clearing stocks. 

The Nashik system is also transparent as the food grain distribution takes place before the community and once distributed, independent agencies and NGOs can verify whether the grains are properly utilised. This model was conceived by the then additional district collector of Nashik, Shekhar Gaikwad, who is now registrar of Yashwantrao Chavan Academy for Development Administration (Yashada).

In July, Gaikwad was invited by the ministry to make a presentation of his model, which was approved by the state government in 2007. Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, were present for the presentation. "The model was highly appreciated as it did not incur any additional cost for the smooth distribution of food grain," Gaikwad told DNA, adding that the Centre has called upon all states to replicate the 'Nashik model' through the PDS.

The ministry's suggestions to the states to replicate the Nashik model comes at a time when it is taking flak for allowing food grain to rot in its godowns in different parts of the country. Under this innovative scheme, Gaikwad proposed that beneficiaries of the PDS will get food grain quota three to four times a year, instead of every month, after taking the actual need of consumers into account. The ration card holders are asked to make advance payment and the amount is collected on a pre-determined date by the district supply officer or village talathi. The place and date for food grain distribution is fixed and the distribution to ration card holders is done before the village gram sabha.

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