Food scarcity

 

According to FAO Food Security  is “a situation in which all people at all times have access to adequate quantities of safe and nutritious food to lead a healthy and active life”.

This definition requires three basic conditions to be met:

1) adequacy, i.e. supplies from domestic production, stocks and imports are sufficient to meet the nation’s needs,

2) availability i.e. stability of supply both spatially and temporally throughout the year and

3) access, i.e. the population has sufficient purchasing power to gain access to its food needs.

India is one of the few countries which have experimented with a broad spectrum of programmes for improving food security. It has already made substantial progress in terms of overcoming transient food insecurity by giving priority to self-sufficiency in foodgrains and through procurement and public distribution of foodgrains, employment programmes, etc. However, despite a significant reduction in the incidence of poverty chronic food insecurity persists in a large proportion of India’s population.

The range of adverse events, including reduced freshwater availability and more frequent extreme weather events, will considerably increase the risks for more efficient crop production and livestock management. Climate change is also likely to affect soil quality by depleting organic matter – a major contributor to soil fertility. In extreme cases, the degradation of the agricultural ecosystems could mean desertification, resulting in a total loss of the productive capacity of the land in question.

Food security is a multidimensional concept covering even the  micro level household food security,energy intakes and indicators of malnutrition.

Major components of food security are:-

  1. Production and Procurement
  2. Storage
  3. Distribution

Indian Agriculture is rightly called as a gamble with Monsoon, variability in food production and rising population creates food insecurity in the nation and worst effected are the downtrodden section of the society.

While India has seen impressive economic growth in recent years, the country still struggles with widespread poverty and hunger. India’s poor population amounts to more than 300 million people, with almost 30 percent of India’s rural population living in poverty. The good news is, poverty has been on the decline in recent years. According to official government of India estimates, poverty declined from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 29.8% in 2009-10.

Need for Self-Sufficiency:

India suffered two very severe droughts in 1965 and 1966. Food Aid to India was restricted to a monthly basis by USA under the P.L. 480 programme.  The Green Revolution made a significant change in the scene. India achieved self-sufficiency in food grains by the year 1976 through the implementation of the seed- water-fertilizer policy adopted by the Government of India.

Food grain production increased four-fold during 1950-51 and 2001-2002 from 51 million tons to 212 million tones. The country is no longer exposed to real famines. But the regional variation in the success of Green Revolution which was chiefly limited to northern- Western states has lead to the divide in the nation. Evergreen revoloution and Bringing green revolution to eastern India is the need of the hour.

Green revolution was focused on wheat and rice and thus the production of pulses was stagnant.

National Food Security Mission comprising rice, wheat and pulses to increase the production of rice by 10 million tons, wheat by 8 million tons and pulses by 2 million tons by the end of the Eleventh Plan (2011-12). The Mission is being continued during 12th Five Year Plan with new targets of additional production of food grains of 25 million tons of food grains comprising of 10 million tons rice, 8 million tons of wheat, 4 million tons of pulses and 3 million tons of coarse cereals by the end of 12th Five Year Plan.
The National Food Security Mission (NFSM) during the 12th Five Year Plan will have five components

(i) NFSM- Rice;

(ii) NFSM-Wheat;

(iii) NFSM-Pulses,

(iv) NFSM-Coarse cereals and

(v) NFSM-Commercial Crops.

Government through Public Distribution System has tried to counter the problem of food insecurity by providing the food grains through fair price shops.

The central Government through Food Corporation of India has assumed the responsibilities of  procurement,storage,transfer and bulk allocation of food grains to state governments.

The public distribution system (PDS) has played an important role in attaining higher levels of the household food security and completely eliminating the threats of famines from the face of the country, it will be in the fitness of things that its evolution, working and efficacy are examined in some details.

PDS was initiated as a deliberate social policy of the government with the objectives of:

  1. i) Providing foodgrains and other essential items to vulnerable sections of the society at resonable (subsidised) prices;
  2. ii) to have a moderating influence on the open market prices of cereals, the distribution of which constitutes a fairly big share of the total marketable surplus; and

iii) to attempt socialisation in the matter of distribution of essential commodities.

The focus of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) is on “poor in all areas” and TPDS involves issue of     35 Kg of food grains per family per month for the population Below Poverty Line (BPL) at specially subsidized prices. The TPDS requires the states to Formulate and implement :-

  1. foolproof arrangements for identification of poor,
  2. Effective delivery of food grains to Fair Price Shops (FPSs)

Its distribution in a transparent and accountable manner at the FPS level

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