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More biometric grain ATMs for India ration beneficiaries

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More biometric grain ATMs for India ration beneficiaries

Machines that check an individual’s biometrics to then issue a corresponding grain ration could be appearing in more communities in India, replacing five percent of ration stores in Uttar Pradesh in the next year. India has around 500,000 such shops, according to the developers.

Authorities in Uttar Pradesh and other states where they are operating are impressed with the GrainATM or ‘Annapurti automated grain dispensing solution.’ The dispensers were developed by the WFP India Office and the WFP Innovation Accelerator in 2020 to allows ration beneficiaries to collect their allowances through biometric authentication, the Hindustan Times recounts.

The machine, which dispenses only rice for now but will also handle wheat and millet, recently won silver in the Anthem Awards, a distinction of the Webby Awards which recognizes innovation and breakthrough in different domains including diversity, equity and inclusion and humanitarian action and services.

Last year the device also won a World Food Programme innovation award in Germany.

The state officials say they are looking forward to making the GrainATM machine available to more ration beneficiaries in partnership with WFP.

According to the State’s food and civil supplies principal secretary Veena Kumari Meena, a GrainATM will be installed in state capital Lucknow soon, after the installation of a machine in Varanasi which has been in use in the past two months, and another in Gorakhpur.

The machine is also cherished for its ability to avoid spillage, waste and short weight, the article mentions. It does not affect the commission of ration dealers who will continue to have their fixed commissions, said Meena. There is no mention of stemming the loss of grain from the current system. The ATMs operate until 9pm.

Meena also disclosed that there are plans by the government to replace up to five percent of ration shops with GrainATMs in the next year.

The cost of the developing, installing and operating the machine in the pilot phase has been borne by the WFP India Office, the official says.

More than 200,000 people have used GrainATMs so far, which have dispensed 16,000 metric tons of grain. The developers plan to launch 60 units to help 195,000 people.

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