Supply chain disruption eases, labour woes continue

New Delhi, April 3, 2020-

With government stepping up efforts to ensure supplies of essential commodities, there was an improvement in the supply chain as flour millers, distributors and retailers said on Friday that things are getting better gradually. However, complete restoration in the supply chain could be possible only when scarcity of labourers is sorted out, they said.

The government has allowed production, transportation and all allied services needed to ensure the supply of food items and other essential commodities.

Praveen Khandelwal, National Secretary-General, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), said he is in touch with the traders across the country and is taking their inputs regularly. “Shortage of labourers has affected the supply chain. However, wholesalers, retailers and small traders are doing their best to restore the supply chain to some extent”, he said.

As the nationwide lockdown entered the 10th day on Friday, grocery stores, wholesalers and retailers received a supply of an improved quantity of flour, rice, chickpea and several other items, but there was a shortfall in supply of beverages, spices, dry fruits and others.

Prem Goyal, President, Delhi Roller Flour Mills Association, told that supply of flour and other items, like, ‘suji’, ‘maida’ has been restored as there is no shortage of wheat. “Initially, mills were not getting wheat as grain markets were closed due to lockdown”.

However, major grain markets in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are still closed, but traders of Delhi are supplying wheat to the mills from FCI.

Supply of wheat from Lawrence Road grain market in Delhi to the local flour mills has increased, said Satyapal, a local trader.

Meanwhile, Food Corporation of India (FCI) is regulary offloading wheat in the open market through e-auction under Open market Sales Schemes (OMSSS). On the last auction held on March 31, bids for 1.44 lakh tonnes of wheat has been received said, FCI said in a statement on Friday.

In view of the corona outbreak, apart from regular auction, Distric Magistrate/Collectors/ have been authorized to lift directly from the FCI depots at OMSS reserve price to cater to the needs of roller flour mills and other wheat product manufacturers. According to FCI, 1,00,147 lakh tonnes of has been allotted through this route in 10 states, including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

A wholesaler in Delhi said due to panic buying and disrupted supply chains as results of transport-related issues and exodus of labourers, there was an acute shortage of food items. But now things are improving as passes have been issued to the distributors and they have started supplying the goods from their stocks.

However, the production of several FMCG goods has been affected as the fear of COVID-19 pandemic is keeping away the labourers and workers from working in the mills and factories.

In fact the entire operation of grain markets, flour mills, rice mills, including production and supply of FMCG, remained affected due to transport and labour issues, said millers, distributors and industry bodies.

An FMCG distributor of beverage products from Gaziabad, not willing to disclose his name, said he has is not getting supply from the factory as the operation is halted due to labour shortage.  (Agency)

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