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Why they let the Grain spoil in Open??

Updated: Jan 16, 2019

FCI Grain Storage Godown
Rotting Grain

This is a controversial topic, although I have been discussing this since last 10 years with many Grain Storage Industry people. No one seems to disagree but no one wants to initiate the change in the existing system.

Every year we see on media, pictures of grains rotting in various govt. godowns/terminals all over India. People see those pictures and videos... feel bad about it... media too raise hue and cry for some time and then everyone forgets.

I somehow went deep into it. I had many questions in my mind like;

  • Why they let these grains spoil?

  • Are they not afraid of penalties that are imposed on them by FCI for spoiling the grain?

  • What are the systems of Quality checks for grains?

  • Are they using calibrated equipment for quality checks?

In order to search for answers I visited many Indian Mandis and FCI Godowns to understand the procedures, equipment, their calibration mythology and their standard operating procedures. I also visited to many grain storage facilities in USA, Canada and Europe to understand their system of operation.

And, finally I got my answer. MOISTURE is the main culprit.

Yes, everything in Grain Storage revolves around Moisture Percentage of Grains. How moisture is measured. How moisture gain / loss is factored in Stock Calculations. People who are smart knows how to use moisture to their benefits and trust me they are not doing anything illegal, it is 100% LEGAL. Yes, you heard it right. It is 100% legal to spoil the grain and make it vulnerable to infestation.

Moisture Gain / Loss Adjustments in Stocks

Let me explain, FCI has provisioned that 0.7% gain in weight of food grain shall be reduced for every 1% increase in moisture content. Don’t ask me who derived this formula. I asked this question to many people in FCI but nobody knows. Tried searching Google too for this derivation of this formula but failed there too.

It must be understood here that all the grains have moisture so;

Gross Weight of Grains

= Actual Weight of Grains + Weight of Water present in it.

When moisture increases in grain it does not increases the weight of grain, it only increases the weight of water present in the grain and similarly moisture decrease only means that the weight of water present in the grain is decreased. Actual weight of grains always remains the same.

Anyways don’t bother too much about the genesis of the formula, just focus on the benefits of this formula. I am describing two scenarios here.

Weight Gain in Grains

Let me take an example of a Wheat Storage Godown/Terminal of 50000 MT. Please refer to the table below wherein I have calculated the all the figures for you to understand how much benefit a storage godown or terminal will get if they increase the moisture percentage of grains.

It is very easy to understand that if they moisture percentage is increased by 1% godown/terminal will get benefit of 221 Tons and if it increases by 2% godown/terminal will get benefit of 447 Tons and so on. Don’t you think the figures are so interesting and lucrative that everyone would want their grains to gain moisture during storage? Hence Moisture Gain is Money Gain. Hence people don’t mind increasing moisture of grains and spoil the grains even if they have to spray water on the grains. They will accept the penalty of 0.7% reduction from final weight of grains for each 1% increase in moisture but still they wont mind it as the final benefit they get by increasing the moisture is much bigger.

Weight Loss in Grains

Now let us see the opposite side of it. I mean let us calculate what happens when moisture percentage of grains is reduced during storage.

Now this is very alarming for Godown / Terminal owners. Since FCI donot give any shrinkage benefits to Godown/Terminal owners they will be at huge loss if moisture decreases during storage for no fault of godown / terminal owners.

Shrinkage benefits should be given to the godown / terminal owners to motivate them to maintain the quality of grain while applying moisture adjustments to calculate the stocks. Wetting the grains deteriorates the quality of grains and make it more susceptible to attract infestation. Wetting the grain reduces its shelf life and sometimes spoils the grain completely.


Shrinkage benefits are given everywhere in the world but not in India. Hence Grains rot in India and will keep on rotting until the following measures are taken;

  • We must use following Moisture Adjustment Formula to factor in weight gain and weight loss while calculating stocks. This formula works in both cases whether its a moisture increase or moisture decrease;

W1 x (1-M1) = W2 x (1-M2)

=> W2 = W1 X (1-M1) / (1-M2)


Initial Weight of Foodgrain (W1)

Initial Moisture Content (M1)

Final Moisture Content (M2)

Final weight of Foodgrain (W2)

  • We must use calibrated Commercial Legal for Trade Moisture Meters with an accuracy of “+/- 0.1%”. This is very important. In fact I am yet to see a good quality calibrated moisture meter in a Grain Mandi. People use non-calibrated old technology inaccurate moisture meters. Not sure it they are using these moisture meters purposefully or due to ignorance. People are not even aware about "representative sample"

  • Factor in other impurities in grain separately by fixing the limit of other impurities so that a grain industry becomes much more logical.

Once above two measures are implemented, we will never find people spoiling grain in India as then they will not get any benefit. Rather why would then they allow grains to gain more moisture when they will never get any benefit? In-fact they will do everything to maintain the moisture of grains at 12% to 13% so as to increase its shelf life.

Not only this, once these three measures are implemented there are many other hidden benefits that India will eventually get. I will discuss about those benefits sometimes later.

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