The six day rail strike in India, which has just ended (May 31st), has delayed vital grain shipments to drought and famine-stricken areas.
SV TILT TO GV cut wheat in piles in field (sheafs)
SV Villager & cart pass with sacks
SV Tractor passes with trailer of sacks
GV & CU Pile of grain (2 shots)
SV Grain tipped into hopper for cleaning (3 shots)
SV Workers weigh sacks of wheat on scales (2 shots)
SV Villagers get rid of chaff (3 shots)
SV Worker shovels wheat into sack
SV PAN over sacks of wheat piled together
Initials ES. 22.23 ES. 22.40
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The six day rail strike in India, which has just ended (May 31st), has delayed vital grain shipments to drought and famine-stricken areas.
More than forty thousand workers on the western, northern and north-eastern sections of the state-owned railway went on strike, despite a government edict on the second day which outlawed railway strikes in India for six months, and led to the arrest of thirty railwaymen. Territorial army reserves were called in to man emergency services.
The strike was called off after the government promised to consider the railway workers' grievances. These included pay increases and food allowances.
The distribution of wheat is also being hindered by farmers who don't want to cell their produce to the government agencies. India's wholesale wheat trade was nationalised on April 1st and the procurement prices are between GBP 5 and GBP 15 (per ton) below the "free" market price. Critice of nationalisation say it has upset the delicate balance of the country's food distribution system just when it is likely to do most harm.
India's stockpiles of wheat are running low and government efforts to build a new buffer stock have been delayed. This time last year there was a stock pile of four million tons of wheat: this year's total has yet to reach three million tons. The Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr. A.P. Shinde says this is because some farmers are holding onto their grain in the hope that the government will increase its price.
The government has announced it is importing more grain, but some supplies already in Indian ports have not been released because contamination has been found.