The Government of India operates one of the world’s largest food-based safety nets, under which subsidized grains are provided to 813 million people every month, through a network of over 500,000 last-mile outlets called Fair Price Shops (FPS). Under the current set up, FPS operators manually weigh and distribute the food grain. However, this manual weighing and distribution of grains is not without problems. It requires the people receiving assistance to queue for long hours, there is a high possibility of grain spillage and waste, and may even lead to people not receiving their share of food assistance.
To ensure efficient and effective distribution of food grains at the last mile, WFP India has developed Annapurti. Annapurti (Hindi for fulfiller of food) is an automated multi-commodity dispensing machine, which will provide beneficiaries with consistent access to their full food ration with speed and accuracy.
WFP India conceptualized, designed and developed the “Annapurti” machine which dispenses the type and quantity of the selected grain (wheat, rice or millet) commodity to each beneficiary, after biometric authentication. Annapurti dispenses one or two grain commodities, up to 50 kilograms, in five minutes, with an error rate of 0.01 percent. The entire solution, including the volume of the storage unit, is modular or easily assembled and can be put together depending on the amount of space available. To ensure food security with efficient energy access, the machine has been designed to consume only 0.6 Watt per hour. It can also be attached to solar panels, inverter batteries and elevators for automatic refilling.
Working in close collaboration with the Government of India, WFP aims to complete at least one cycle of food distributions in 2021 at five locations to test the speed, accuracy and capacity of the machines, as well as the acceptability of the machines by the Fair Price Shop retailers and convenience for the beneficiaries. The team will provide a pilot report for the proof of concept to the Government of India for scale-up in coming years.