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India: Food Distribution Goes High-Tech!

Queuing Confidently With Smart Cards

People eligible for the Government's food safety net programme lining up at a participating fair price shop (engaged in selling Public Distribution System-food) in Rayagada District in Odisha. They now use smart cards containing biometric (i.e., fingerprints) identification of all family members instead of the old ration card which resembled a voluminous book.

Verifying Details

A government worker fills in details from the smart card into a log book.

How To Use A Public Distribution System Smart Card

The smart card is then inserted in the machine (like a point of sale device) and the recipient gets a finger scanned to verify that he is one of the members allowed to receive food on behalf of his family. If the finger scan does not match the biometric information recorded in the card, the machine does not allow a transaction to take place.


Smart Card Machine

Once the fingerprint is recognized, the government worker selects the desired transaction on the interactive screen using a stylus.

Accuracy Measures

Using an electronic scale to weigh rice for accuracy.

Receiving Full Ration Sizes

Exactly 30 kilograms of rice. With the use of smart cards for the Government's Public Distribution System, poor tribal beneficiaries are ensured that they are receiving their full entitlements.

Tribal Women Benefit From The Improved Public Distribution System (PDS)

Tribal women sit outside the fair price shop with their sacks of rice. They are each waiting for a family member to help them carry the rice back to their homes.

With the introduction of biometric technology, WFP has converted a complex Public Distribution System in Rayagada district in the state of Odisha, into one that is accurate and transparent. The poor tribal beneficiaries in this region, who, in the past were turned away without food or given reduced quantities, are now receiving their full food entitlements under the government's Food Safety Net Programme.