the setting up of a decentralised foodgrain procurement system was once again stalled when prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had to withdraw his suggestion in face of opposition from a number of chief ministers. At a recent meeting on agricultural food management, Vajpayee was left with no option but to refer the issue to a chief ministers' standing committee. "The cost of centralised procurement, storage and distribution is unacceptably high. This has resulted in both higher prices and more subsidies," said Vajpayee. But most of the states' representatives were of the view that decentralisation required a complete restructuring of the storage infrastructure and distribution network -- a task for which most of them lacked finances. According to M S Swaminathan, an agricultural scientist, setting up of community grain banks run by village councils can be an effective solution to the problem.
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