To bring in automation in the procurement system, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will be installing 50 Artificial Intelligence (AI) based automatic grain analysers at its foodgains depots assessing quality of rice received from the millers by the end of the month.
This is aimed at minimising the discretionary decision making power at the ground level officials of the corporation in grain handling.
Sources told FE that performance evaluation of such machines at a few locations have been encouraging and the corporation will install such analysers across all its 2000 depots across the country in a phased manner.
The corporation is also in the process of initiating digitization of quality control laboratories from depot levels for providing real time data on grain testing reports by March this year.
This comes after a nationwide crackdown undertaken recently against a few officials of the FCI by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after alleged malpractices in procurement, storage and distribution of foodgrains.
Rice millers say that because of the testing of samples in the manual laboratories, the local level officials have a key stay in the process of procurement. To eliminate human interface in the whole process of rice procurement, FCI is aiming to install grain analysers across depots.
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“Gradually roll out across procurement centres after observing its efficacy. Discretion of the field level officials is brought down to minimal,” he said.
Meanwhile, the FCI has decided to set up a quick response team to visit the spot where rice brought in by the millers meet the fair and average (FAQ) standard or not.
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After paddy is procured from the farmers by the FCI and state agencies, it is handed over to millers for conversion into rice. The government agencies had procured close to 60 million tonne of rice in 2021-22 season (October-September)
FCI supplied rice for distribution to more than 800 million beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act and other welfare schemes. The rice procured from grain-surplus states is also used for keeping a buffer stock with the FCI.