The government will build eight modern steel silos to boost grains storage capacity of public warehouses.
The warehouses store buffer stocks to ensure adequate food supply after disasters, keep rice prices stable and ensure fair prices to growers.
The silos, which are expected to complete by 2017, will increase the government's total grains storage capacity by 5.35 lakh tonnes to 24.36 lakh tonnes.
"We are advancing to achieve our goal of building 30 lakh tonnes of food storage capacity by 2021,” Food Minister Kamrul Islam said at a workshop on Modern Food Storage Facilities Project, at CIRDAP yesterday. Officials from the World Bank and Food and Agriculture Organisation joined the programme organised by the food ministry.
Over the past five years, the government has increased its warehouses' capacity by 5 lakh tonnes from 14 lakh tonnes as part of its goal to stabilise food prices by intervening in the market through social safety net schemes.
Besides strengthening capacity, the eight silos will improve distribution of food. Of them, six silos will be built for storing rice and two for wheat, said Ahmed Hossain Khan, director general of Directorate General of Food.
The project will cost $240 million, of which the World Bank will provide $210 million in loans.
The steel silos will be built in Barisal, Narayanganj, Dhaka, Ashuganj, Mymensingh, Khulna, Chittagong and Tangail.
“The new steel silos will have low storage losses compared to flat or concrete silos. Food grains can be stored for a longer period of time. Parboiled rice can be stored for up to three years,” Khan said. Land requirement for these silos will be low, and the nutritional quality of the stored grain will be retained through computerised control of humidity and temperature. Operating costs of the silos will also be low, along with higher operational efficiency, Khan said.
Countries such as Thailand, USA, India and Turkey have such steel silos. These feature online weight measures, rice cleaners, handling equipment with chains and conveyor belt and bucket elevators.
Small silos will be constructed in coastal and flash-flood zones, each with 100kg storage capacity, to help 5 lakh families store rice to use in times of disaster.
Under the scheme, the government also plans to establish nationwide electronic monitoring system for food stocks to ensure leak-proof supply management.
It will enable policymakers to monitor invoices, procurement, market prices and stock situation online, Khan said.
Christine Kimes, acting country head of World Bank Bangladesh, said the modern food storage silos are a new generation scheme that will support digitised monitoring of food distribution and procurement in an integrated manner.