INDIA – State-run Food Corporation of India (FCI), an agency for procurement and distribution of food grains, is working with two Indian agri-startups to develop a simple and handy food grain-testing equipment, to be set up at the government-operated mandis to ease the manual grain testing process.

Mandis are market yards of Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), which are run and regulated by state governments.

The food grains are usually subjected to a mandatory quality check against fixed central government standards using Bureau of Indian Standards procedures (BIS).

Apart from moisture content testing, all other grain parameters are tested using manual analysis.

“This is a time-consuming process and has certain levels of subjectivity. Therefore, efforts are being made to bring in technology-based quality assessment,” said a government official.

Developing of a testing equipment will ascertain the quality assessment of the food grains brought to the procurement centers by farmers which will be done in a quick and transparent manner without any scope for subjectivity or human intervention.

According to PTI, pilots were run in 4 mandis, 2 in Punjab and another 2 in Haryana during wheat procurement season by one of the startups working in developing solutions for mandi level quality checks.

The startups are trying to get all quality refractions measured through artificial intelligence-based software instead of human analysis.

The software is able to identify the refractions but hasn’t reached acceptable levels of accuracy so far, hence still a work in progress.

“In order to achieve transparency through technology in all governance systems, the FCI is working with Indian Agri-Start Ups for developing a simple and handy testing equipment which can be deployed in the thousands of mandis operated by the government agencies for food grain procurement,” said the corporation

The paddy procurement season will provide a platform for testing improvements being made on the equipment.

As of June 25, of the 2020-21 Kharif Marketing Season (KMS) which starts in June and ends in October, the FCI and other government agencies had procured about 85,334,000 tonnes of paddy from 73,870 purchase centres.

Similarly, 43,269,000 tonnes of wheat was procured from 19,030 purchase centres in the 2021-22 rabi marketing season ended April.