A two-year project to help the Odisha government ensure food security has been announced by Ericsson. The company will be supporting the World Food Programme (WFP) Trust for India in their work on developing customised information and communication technology (ICT) solutions that will bring efficiencies and improved governance across the targeted public distribution system (TPDS) in Odisha. This project is estimated to benefit nearly 30 million people across the state who are food-insecure.

The department of food and public distribution, in association with all states and union territories, is implementing a plan for end-to-end computerisation of TPDS to improve the distribution of food-grains across the country. This includes digitisation of beneficiary database, online allocation of food-grains, computerisation of supply-chain management and grievance redressal mechanism.

The TPDS scheme, operated jointly by central and state governments, involves procurement, allocation and transportation of food-grains as well as distribution amongst eligible beneficiaries, issuance of ration cards, and monitoring of fair price shops. Ericsson will support a customised ICT solution to enhance and integrate the TPDS supply-chain system in Odisha. The objective is to improve efficiencies in food-based safety nets for the beneficiaries of this project and create accountability and transparency in the TPDS system.

The technology-based solution will enable efficient logistics, strengthened governance, and support to stakeholders throughout the food value chain. Officials at the state, district and block levels, and representatives from gram panchayats and social audit and vigilance committees will be trained on how to use the solution and monitor the TPDS.

However, questions related to the duration and fees of this partnership, proof of concept, and impact assessment are yet to be answered by the company.

As per the press release, Amitabh Ray, head of Ericsson Global Services Center in India, said, ‘Ericsson is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals such as achieving zero hunger by 2030. This association with the WFP is in line with the government’s plan of having a robust ICT solution to manage the TPDS for achieving food security. The partnership has been designed to address critical issues like efficient utilisation of resources including access to food and reduced food wastage. It will enhance farmers’ access to government’s system for selling their produce, while enabling more transparency and better governance. This project will benefit nearly 30 million people across 6,200 gram panchayats in Odisha.’

According to WFP country director for India, Dr Hameed Nuru, ‘Ericsson’s support will contribute towards building efficiencies in the TPDS to not only convenience beneficiaries, but also make it easier for governments and policymakers to provide oversight and accountability that is backed by technology and real-time data.  The achievement of SDG 2 requires all stakeholders to collaborate and utilize their respective expertise towards food and nutrition security.’