India’s record rice and wheat harvests may not be enough to ensure food security in the world’s second-most populous nation because about 10% of the crop is lost to pests or rots in inadequate warehouses.

In peril: About 30% of the country’s total farm produce is stored in the open, leading to wastage and distress sales. Farmers mostly store grains in rooms, bamboo structures, bins and underground structures

Governments across Asia are clamping down on exports and encouraging imports of staple foods to secure domestic supplies, prevent social tension and ease inflation which is near a three-year high in India. Rice, wheat, corn and soya bean reached records this year.

The lack of silos and secure warehouses in India, the world’s second biggest producer of wheat and rice, is hindering government efforts to curb inflation, which has doubled in the last four months to 7.14% in the week ended 5 April, fuelled by a global spurt in food and commodity prices.

“It’s a problem of plenty and the government should modernize its warehouses and transportation system,” said Devinder Sharma, chairman of the New Delhi-based farm lobby group Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security. “There is a huge pressure because of international prices and now is the time to address this issue.”

Companies such as Adani Enterprises Ltd, the country’s biggest private farm goods exporter, may seek opportunities to expand storage capacities.

Adani has silos that store about 650,000 tonnes of wheat for state-run Food Corporation of India, the nation’s biggest buyer of foodgrain.

“The government should encourage private investments in creating infrastructure for handling of agricultural commodities,” Atul Chaturvedi, president of Adani Enterprises, said on Tuesday by phone from Ahmedabad, Gujarat. “In this scenario India can’t afford to lose crops.”

Rice, the staple food for half the world, has more than doubled to a record in the past year after countries including Vietnam, China, Egypt and India reduced exports to ensure local supplies and to control rising food costs.

Rough rice for July delivery rose as much as 2.3% to $24.745 (around Rs990) per 100 pounds (around 45 kg) in after-hours electronic trading on the Chicago Board of Trade and traded at $24.48 noon Singapore time. The contract has gained 77% this year.

Vikas Kiran of Integrated Pest Control says Pest control should be one of the main challenges in Indian warehouses.

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