Moisture content limit for public procurement

2022 JAN 21

Preliminary   > Agriculture   >   Storage, Transport & Marketing   >   Public distribution system

Why in news?

  • A draft proposal was made by the Union government to change the moisture content limit for wheat and paddy.

More about the news:

  • The ideal moisture content in wheat may be reduced to 12 per cent from 14 per cent and in paddy to 16 per cent from 17 per cent, according to the discussions between the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution and the Food Corporation of India (FCI), which procures food grains from farmers on a minimum support price (MSP).
  • At present, farmers have to take a price cut on MSP when selling wheat stocks above the 12 per cent limit to FCI. Stocks with above 14 per cent moisture are rejected.
  • The intention is to improve the quality of foodgrains that are procured for the public distribution system (PDS).

What is moisture content?

  • Moisture content (MC) is the weight of water contained in paddy or wheat expressed in percent.
  • The moisture content has been a sensitive issue for farmers. After harvesting, wheat absorbs moisture while rice loses it. On an average, wheat contains 15 to 22%  moisture on harvest. Farmers have to dry their produce after harvesting and even at mandis before procurement.
  • However, untimely rain ahead of procurement season and lack of sheltered storage space at the mandis makes it difficult for farmers to keep their stocks dry.

Why such norms?

  • The crops grown in various States pertain to different varieties and therefore, differ in grain size, moisture content, weight, etc.
  • Therefore, for adoption of a uniform quantity, Government follows certain norms regarding the same.
  • Also in order to minimize operational losses in godowns/ warehouses, scientific code of storage practices of foodgrains should invariably be followed.
  • This includes the practices for recording the correct moisture content of food grains at the time of receipt, during storage and at the time of issue, color change, percentage increase in broken/damaged grains etc.
  • Moisture content in crops like wheat and paddy is an important determinant of its quality and the price it fetches.
    • As moisture content plays vital role in determining the storage losses involving financial implications, it is advised that moisture content shall be recorded in the moisture meter.


Which of the following criteria are considered to ensure quality of wheat and paddy procured by FCI?

1. Moisture content in the grain

2. Presence of inorganic foreign substance

3. Presence of organic foreign substance

4. Discoloration

Select the correct answer using code given below

(a) 1,2 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 and 4 only

(d) 1,2,3 and 4