Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday asked state-owned FCI to adopt modern technologies in its overall functioning, reduce the cost of operations and prevent any wrong-doings besides winning the trust of farmers and poor beneficiaries under the public distribution system.
The Food and Consumer Affairs Minister also asked FCI and its employees not to tolerate corruption in its operations.
He was speaking at the 60th Foundation Day of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the government's nodal agency for procurement and distribution of food grains. The FCI was established on January 14, 1965.
Addressing the event, Goyal complemented the FCI for ensuring that farmers get reasonable prices for their produce and providing food grains to 81 crore people.
He asked the FCI and its employees to focus on three priorities.
First, he said, "We should win the trust of our farmers as well as our beneficiaries, which are poor and lower-middle-income people. This should be our first priority to win the trust of the people and we should reach them with sensitivity and sincerity".
He stressed carrying out the procurement, storage and distribution of foodgrains in a transparent manner with full honesty. Secondly, Goyal said, "We should adopt technology and digitisation to improve operational efficiency".
Thirdly, the minister said, "The amount we are spending, how we can control expenditure and reduce it".
Goyal said the cost could be reduced through route optimisation, mechanised loading and unloading and the adoption of a modern storage system to cut overall operational costs.
He suggested hosting of hackathon to generate ideas in these areas. Goyal asserted that FCI operations would be further strengthened and it would live up to its legacy if the corporation followed these priorities.
The minister highlighted that the FCI is already making efforts to modernise and digitise its entire operations, but needs more to be done. Goyal urged the FCI employees to make the corporation a world-class organisation.
"We should stop any wrongdoing in the operations by using technologies and also taking stringent actions," he said, adding this should be our common efforts and common responsibilities.
The minister asserted that a corruption-free nation and women's empowerment are two key elements to make India a developed country. He said the FCI would play a major part in this endeavour.
"I have full faith that each one of you will not tolerate any wrongdoings. You will raise your voice and report wrongdoings," Goyal told the gathering as he urged them to work towards making the systems of procurement and distribution of foodgrains more efficient, transparent and corruption-free.
The minister also highlighted the efforts made by the central government to control inflation, including sales of Bharat dal, Bharat Atta, onions and tomatoes at subsidised rates.
He said the government has taken several steps to ensure that people are not affected due to food inflation and also minimise the impact of inflation on the economy.
During the event, Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti -- both Ministers of State for food and Consumer Affairs -- lauded the efforts made by the FCI to supply foodgrains to 81 crore people through ration shops during the COVID pandemic.
Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said the FCI has adopted technologies in a big way and also taken steps to eliminate "bad sheep" in the system, sending the right signals.
The FCI was set up under the Food Corporation's Act 1964 to fulfil key objectives -- effective price support operations for safeguarding the interests of the farmers, distribution of foodgrains throughout the country for the public distribution system and maintaining a satisfactory level of operational and buffer stocks of foodgrains to ensure national food security.