Food security in India class 9
The green revolution initiated in the late 1960s was a historic watershed that transformed the
food security situation in India. It tripled food grain production over the next three or four
decades and consequently reduced by over 50 percent both the levels of food insecurity and
poverty in the country, this was achieved in spite of the increase in population during the period,
which almost doubled. The country succeeded in the laudable task of becoming a food self-sufficient nation, at least at the macro level.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Food security has three components, viz., availability, access, and absorption (nutrition). The three are interconnected.
Food security means availability, accessibility, and affordability of food to all people at all times. The poor households are more vulnerable to food insecurity whenever there is a problem of production or distribution of food crops.
Food security depends on the Public Distribution System (PDS) and government vigilance and action at times, when this security is threatened. Public Distribution System (PDS) is an Indian food security system. Established by the Government of India under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution and are managed jointly by state governments in India, it distributes subsidized food and non-food items to India’s poor. This scheme was launched in India on June 1947. Major commodities distributed include staple food grains, such as wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene, through a network of fair price shops (also known as ration shops) established in several states across the country. Food Corporation of India, a Government-owned corporation, procures and maintains the PDS.
What is food security?
Food is as essential for living as air is for breathing. But food security means something more than getting two square meals. Food security has the following dimensions
(a) availability of food means food production within the country, food imports and the previous years stock stored in government granaries.
(b) accessibility means the food is within reach of every person.
(c) affordability implies that an individual has enough money to buy sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet one’s dietary needs.
Thus, food security is ensured in a country only if
(1) enough food is available for all the persons
(2) all persons have the capacity to buy food of acceptable quality and
(3) there is no barrier on access to food.
Ensuring food security ought to be an issue of great importance for a country like India where more than one-third of the population is estimated to be absolutely poor and one-half of all children malnourished in one way or another. There have been many emerging issues in the context of food security in India in the last two decades. These are:
- Economic liberalization in the 1990s and its impact on agriculture and food security;
- Establishment of WTO: particularly the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) under it;
- Challenges of climate change; crisis of the three Fs, viz., food prices, fuel prices, and financial crisis
- The phenomenon of hunger amidst plenty, i.e., accumulation of stocks in the early
years of this decade and in 2008-09 along with high levels of poverty;
- Introduction of targeting in the Public Distribution System (PDS) for the first time
in the 1990s;
- ‘Right to Food’ campaign for improving food security in the country and the Supreme Court Orders on mid-day meal schemes;
- Proposal for National Food Security Law (Right to Food); and
- Monitorable targets under the Tenth and Eleventh Five Year Plans similar to the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) on poverty and women and child nutrition.
What is Minimum Support Price?
Minimum Support Price is the price at which government purchases crops from the farmers, whatever may be the price for the crops. Minimum Support Price is an important part of India’s agricultural price policy.
The MSP helps to incentivize the framers and thus ensures adequate food grains production in the country. It gives sufficient remuneration to the farmers, provides food grains supply to buffer stocks and supports the food security programme through PDS and other programmes.
ICDS: The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), launched in 1975, aims at the holistic development of children up to six years of age with a special focus on children upto two years, besides expectant and nursing mothers. This is done through a package of six services: health check-ups, immunization, referral services, supplementary feeding, non-formal pre-school education, and advice on health and nutrition. In spite of its expansion in the last three decades, the impact on child nutrition and protecting the rights of the children is quite limited.
The Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS): This scheme provides a free cooked meal to primary school children of government, government aided and schools run by local bodies. This scheme is Centrally assisted by the State Governments making some contributions towards the cost of cooking the meal provided. The MDMS launched in 1995 with the Central Government providing free foodgrains while the costs of cooking the meal were entirely borne by the state governments. However, due to inadequate funding, some state governments resorted to distributing foodgrains instead of providing cooked mid-day meals.
Food Security is determined by the availability of food, the access to food and the absorption (or nutrition) of food in the system. These three conditionalities for food security are closely inter-related and thus availability and access to food can increase absorption or nutritional levels among the households. India has designed and implemented a very wide range of programmes to enhance food security and has also succeeded to a remarkable extent however severe challenges remain on
several fronts. However, the major problem is with the proper design and implementation of
policies and programmes. There is, in particular, the urgent need to address governance issues
especially those related to effective and efficient public service delivery systems.