Chapter 4. Food Security in India

Food Security
• Food security has following dimensions:
(1) Availability of food means food production within country, food imports, and previous years’ stock stored in government granaries.
(2) Accessibility means food is within reach of every person.
(3) Affordability implies that an individual has enough money to buy sufficient, safe, & nutritious food to meet one’s dietary needs.
• Food security is ensured in a country only if:

[1] enough food is available for all persons, [2] all persons have capacity to buy food of acceptable quality, and [3] there is no barrier to access to food.
• Due to a natural calamity, say drought, total production of food grains decreases. It creates a shortage of food in affected areas.
• Due to a shortage of food, prices go up. At high prices, some people cannot afford to buy food.
• If such a calamity happens in a very wide spread area or is stretched over a longer period, it may cause a situation of starvation.
• A massive starvation might take a turn of famine.
• A famine is characterised by wide spread deaths due to starvation and epidemics caused by forced use of contaminated water or decaying food and loss of body resistance due to weakening from starvation.
• Natural calamities and pandemics may lead to food shortages. For example, Covid-19 pandemic had an adverse impact on food security.
• most devastating famine that occurred in India was Famine of Bengal in 1943.
• Restriction on movement of people and goods and services impacted economic activity. Therefore, food security is needed in a country to ensure food at all times, including during calamities and pandemics.

Food Insecure People
• worst affected groups are landless people with little or no land to depend upon, traditional artisans, providers of traditional services, petty self-employed workers, and destitute including beggars.
• In urban areas, food-insecure families are those whose working members are usually employed in ill-paid occupations and casual labour market.
• social composition and inability to buy food play a role in food insecurity. SCs, STs, & some sections of OBCs [lower castes among them] who have either a poor land base or very low land productivity are prone to food insecurity.
• people affected by natural disasters, who have to migrate to other areas in search of work, are among most food-insecure people.
• food insecure people are disproportionately large in some regions of country, such as economically backward states with high incidence of poverty, tribal & remote areas, regions more prone to natural disasters.
• states of Uttar Pradesh [eastern and southeastern parts], Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, parts of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra account for largest number of foodinsecure people in country.
• Hunger is another sign of not having enough food. Hunger doesn’t just show that someone is poor; it makes them poor. So, achieving food security means getting rid of hunger now and making it less likely that people will go hungry in future.
• There are both long-term and seasonal aspects to hunger. Chronic hunger is caused by diets that are consistently too low in quantity and/or quality. People who are poor often go hungry because they don’t have enough money to buy even enough food to stay alive.
• Seasonal hunger is caused by way food grows and is picked. This happens a lot in rural areas because farming is seasonal, and it happens a lot in urban areas because of temporary workers. For example, there is less work for temporary construction workers when it rains. This kind of hunger happens when someone can’t find work for a whole year.

Food Security in India
• India has been is aiming at Self-sufficiency in food grains since Independence.
• India adopted a new strategy in agriculture, which resulted in ‘Green Revolution’, especially in production of wheat and rice.
• Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, officially recorded impressive strides of Green Revolution in agriculture by releasing a special stamp entitled ‘Wheat Revolution’ in July 1968.
• India has become self-sufficient in food grains during last 30 years because of a variety of crops grown all over country.
• availability of food grains [even in adverse weather conditions or otherwise] at country level has further been ensured with a carefully designed food security system by government.
• This system has two components: [a] buffer stock, and [b] public distribution system. Buffer Stock
• Buffer Stock is stock of food grains, namely wheat and rice, procured by government through Food Corporation of India [FCI].
• FCI purchases wheat and rice from farmers in states where there is surplus production. farmers are paid a pre-announced price for their crops. This price is known as Minimum Support Price [MSP].
• MSP is declared by government every year before sowing season to provide incentives to farmers for raising production of these crops.
• purchased food grains are stored in granaries.
• It is done to distribute food grains in deficit areas and among poorer strata of society at a price lower than market price called Issue Price.
• This helps resolve problem of shortage of food during adverse weather conditions or during periods of calamity.

Public Distribution System
• food procured by FCI is distributed through government-regulated ration shops among poorer section of society. It is known as Public Distribution System [PDS].
• Ration shops called Fair Price Shops, keep stock of food grains, sugar, & kerosene for cooking. These items are sold to people at a price lower than market price and it is called Issue Price.
• There are three kinds of ration cards: [a] Antyodaya cards for poorest of poor; [b] BPL cards for those below poverty line; and [c] APL cards for all others.
• PDS has proved to be most effective instrument of government policy over years in stabilising prices and making food available to consumers at affordable prices. It has been instrumental in averting widespread hunger and famine by supplying food from surplus regions of country to deficit ones.

National Food Security Act, 2013
• This Act provides for food and nutritional security life at affordable prices and enables people to live a life with dignity. Under this act, 75% of rural population and 50% of urban population have been categorised as eligible households for food security.
• introduction of Rationing in India dates back to 1940s against backdrop of Bengal famine. three important food intervention programmes were introduced under rationing:
(1) Public Distribution System [PDS];
(2) Integrated Child Development Services [ICDS] in 1975; and
(3) Food for work [FFW] in 1977-78.

Role of Cooperatives in Food Security
• cooperatives are playing an important role in food security in India, especially in southern and western parts of country. cooperative societies set up shops to sell low-priced goods to poor people.
• In Delhi, Mother Dairy is making strides in provision of milk and vegetables to consumers at a controlled rate decided by Government of Delhi.
• Amul is another success story of cooperatives in milk and milk products from Gujarat. It has brought about White Revolution in country.
• In Maharashtra, Academy of Development Science [ADS] has facilitated a network of NGOs for setting up grain banks in different regions. ADS Grain Bank programme is acknowledged as a successful and innovative food security intervention.
• A subsidy is a payment that a government makes to a producer to supplement market price of a commodity. Subsidies can keep consumer prices low while maintaining a higher income for domestic producers.

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