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Buffer Stock and its Distribution

Food grains like wheat and rice are bought by the government from the farmers and stored in safe granaries, so that they can be distributed to the common man through government shops (ration shops).

The government buys excess stock of food grains and stores it, so that it can be used during drought or floods or at times of other calamities, when grain productions is low. This excess stock is called ‘buffer stock’.

Food Corporation of India (FCI) buys the grains from the farmers and stores it in its granaries

The Food Corporation of India was setup under the Food Corporation Act 1964

The FCI Logo

The objectives of the FCI are:-

  • Effective price support operations for safeguarding   the interests of the farmers.
  • Distribution of food grains throughout the country for public distribution system.
  • Maintaining satisfactory level  of operational  and buffer stocks of food grains to ensure National Food Security.
  • In its 40 years of service to the nation , FCI has played a significant role in India's success in transforming the crisis management oriented food security into a stable security system.

    The FCI has 5 zonal offices:-

  • North
  • South
  • East
  • West
  • North East
  • The functioning of the FCI :-

    • The FCI pays the farmers a price that is already fixed by the Government.
    • This price is called Minimum Support Price (MSP)
    • The MSP is announced by the government every year before the sowing season
    • The announcement of the price helps farmers to plan their agricultural activity and increase production.
    • The purchased food grains are stored in granaries which belong to the FCI.
    • The excess stock held by the FCI is called the buffer stock
    • The buffer stock is distributed to the poor people were there is shortage of food.
    • A very reasonable price is fixed as the selling price. This price is called Issue Price.  
    • Fair price shops or Ration shops
    • There are about 4.6 lakh ration shops all over the country. These shops sell essential items like food grains, sugar and kerosene oil for cooking. The price of these items is much lower than the market price.
    • Every family is issued a card called the Ration card.
    • Ration cards are classified into 3 categories.
      (a) Antyodaya cards for the poorest of the poor
      (b) BPL cards for those below poverty line
      (c) APL cards for all others
    • A specific quantity of all the items is allotted on a monthly basis according to the number of members in each family.

    This system of Rationing or issue of Ration cards was introduced during the Bengal famine.

    The Public Distribution System again gained momentum in the mid 1970s.

    Due to increase in population and certain other factors poverty level increased in the mid 1970s

    Three important programmes were implemented during this time.

    We have already seen about the Public Distribution System; now let us see what the other two programmes are about :

    India’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is a holistic early childhood and development programme that addresses the interrelated needs of children, adolescent girls and women from disadvantaged communities.
    Begun in the year 1975, it is now one of the world’s largest networks of integrated family and community services. ICDS reaches out to 4.8 million expectant and nursing mothers and 22.9 million children under six years of age.
    • This programme was launched on November 14, 2004
    • It was launched in 150 most backward districts of the country
    • The objective was to supplement wages with food grains.
    • The programme is open to all rural poor who are in need of wage employment and are willing to do manual unskilled work.

    It is a fully sponsored by the Central Government of India ,under this scheme food grain is provided to the States free of cost, which in turn is given to the labourers in lieu of wages.

    The programme is planned , implemented, coordinated and monitored at the District level in all the States, under the guidance of the District Collector.

    Poverty Alleviation Programmes (PAPs) were also launched by the government.
    Public Distribution System plays a vital role in ensuring ‘food security’.


    The aim of the PDS is to see that remote and backward areas are provided with ration shops and food grains are available at all times.

    The target of the PDS is the poor in all the areas in India.

    • National Food for Work Programme
    • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
    • Food-for-Work
    • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
    • Public Distribution System (PDS) for food grains was strengthened
    • The Public Distribution System has Fair price shops or Ration shops in most localities, villages, towns and cities.
    • The distribution is done through the Public Distribution System
    • The buffer stock comes in useful during natural calamities.

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