Food & Public Distribution


The Department of Food and Public Distribution is responsible for management of the food economy of the nation. It undertakes various activities, such as procurement of food items, their storage, movement and delivery to the distributing agencies. This section provides requisite information pertaining to the Central, State Government Departments and various other institutions handling the public distribution system. Information related to the commodities, consumer affairs, consumer cooperatives and schemes is also available in this section.

Public distribution system in India represents a direct intervention by the government in the food market. It involves subsidised distribution of limited quantities of essential goods such as cereals, sugar, edible oils, etc. Distribution of cereals assumes great importance as it is supposed to provide food security to the poor. The Department of Food and Public Distribution is responsible for the management of food supply in the country.

It is directly concerned with the various activities related to food supplies. It undertakes such works as the storage, movement and delivery of the foodgrains to the distributing agencies. The department ensures the adequate availability of foodgrains at reasonable prices in different parts of the country.

The public distribution system in India was started in early 1970s with an objective to make foodgrains and other necessary food items available to the economically weaker sections of the society at reasonable rates. Under the present system it is responsibility of the Central and State governments to ensure smooth flow of foodgrains and other commodities to consumers. The Food Corporation of India (FCI), on behalf of the Central Government procures transports and stocks the grains in the central godowns (owned or hired).

The State agencies lift the allotted quotas of the central food pool from the godowns and distribute the grains to consumers through a network of fair price shops. The States are also free to procure additional quantities of foodgrains independently and add to the allotted quotas of food grains for distribution, though very few States do so. The FCI along with the State agencies hold and maintain the reserve ratio buffer stocks of foodgrains in addition to the operational stocks of foodgrains in addition to the operational stocks used for distribution.

The quantities of foodgrains allotted to States for distribution by the Central Government are available at all the depots of the FCI at prices, fixed by the government, i.e. ‘issue prices’ which are uniform for specified varieties or qualities of grains all over India. The issue prices are generally lower than the economic costs of the procured grains where economic costs include procurement prices, procurement incidences and distribution incidentals. Thus, the Central Government, to make available foodgrains-mainly rice and wheat to consumers at prices much below their economic cost-incurs substantial consumer subsidy on distribution of grains.