What is Food Security?
Food security means availability, accessibility and affordability of food to all people at all times. Food security depends on the public Distribution System (PDS), Government vigilance and action at times when this security is threatened.
Food security has the following dimensions:
- Availability of food production within the country, food imports and the previous years stock stored in government granaries.
- Accessibility means food is within reach of every person.
- Affordability implies that a person has enough money to buy sufficient nutritious and safe food to meet one’s dietary needs. Thus, food security is ensured in a country only if:
(i) Enough food is available for all the people.
(ii) All persons have the capacity to buy food of acceptable quality.
(iii) There is no barrier to access to food.
Why Food Security?
- Overpopulation: The population of India is increasing at a very fast rate. the population of India has increased from 361 million in 1951 to 1027 million in 2001.
- Reduction in the net sown area under cereals: There has been a gradual shift from cultivation of food crops to cultivation of fruits, vegetables, oilseeds and other cash crops, which also act as an industrial raw material; This has lead to the reduction in net sown area under cereals, millets and pulses.
- Hoarding and black marketing: There is a continuous tendency on the part of traders in India to hoard food grains and to accentuate the shortage of food grains in order to push up the prices for reaping extraordinary profit.
- Reduction of land under cultivation: The use of more and more land for the construction of factories, warehouses and shelters has reduced the land under cultivation and new fertile land for framing no longer available.
- Corrupt administrative practices: The government has imposed various measures like price controls, rationing, zoning, surprise checks etc. but as the administrative machinery in India is totally corrupt, these measures fail to reap any benefit to the general masses of the country.
- Natural calamities: Natural calamities like earthquakes, drought, floods, tsunami, famine etc. can also adversely affect the folding security of the country.
How is Food Security affected during a Calamity?
Due to a natural calamity, say drought, the total production of foodgrains decreases. It creates a shortage of food in the affected areas. Due to a shortage of food, if such calamity happens in a very wide area or is stretched over a longer time period, it may cause a situation of starvation. Massive starvation might take a turn to famine. a famine is characterized by widespread 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. There are places like Kalahandi and Kashipur in Orissa where famine-like conditions have been existing for many years and where some starvation deaths have also been reported. Therefore, food security is needed in a country to ensure the food at all times.
Who are Food-insecure?
- In India, the worst affected groups are landless people with or no land to depend upon, traditional artisans, providers of traditional services, petty self-employed workers and destitute including beggars.
- In the urban areas, the food insecure families are those working members are generally employed in ill-paid occupation and casual labor market. These workers are largely engaged in seasonal activities and are paid very low wages that just ensure bare survival.
- The social composition along with the inability to buy food also plays a role in food insecurity.
- The SCs, STs, and some sections of the OBCs (lower castes among them) who have either poor land-base or very low land productivity are prone to food insecurity.
- The people affected by natural disasters, who have to migrate to other areas in search of work, are also among the most food insecure people.
- A high incidence of malnutrition prevails among women. This is a matter of serious concern as it puts even the unborn baby at risk of malnutrition.
Which States are more Food Insecure?
the food insecure people are disproportionately large in some regions of the country, such as economically backward states with high incidence of poverty, tribal and remote areas, regions more prone to natural disasters etc. in fact, the states of Uttar Pradesh (eastern and south-eastern parts), Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Chattisgarh, parts of Madhya and Maharashtra account for the largest number of food-insecure people in the country.
Try yourself:The most affected groups in rural areas facing food insecurity are:
The following types of people are more prone to food insecurity:
(i) Landless people with little or no land.
(ii) Traditional artisans who provide traditional services.
(iii) Petty self-employed workers.
(iv) Destitute including beggars.
Hunger is another aspect indicating food insecurity. Hunger is not just an expression of poverty, it brings about poverty. The attainment of food security, therefore, involves eliminating current hunger and reducing the risk of future hunger. Hunger has chronic and seasonal dimensions.
- Seasonal Hunger: Seasonal hunger is related to the cycle of food growing and harvesting. During off season, prices of foodgrains become high or there can be shortage of foodgrains. This situation leads to seasonal hunger. This type of hunger exists when a person is unable to get work for the entire year
- Chronic Hunger: Chronic hunger is a consequence of diets persistently inadequate in terms of quality. The basic cause of chronic hunger is very low income. The type of hunger exists when a person is unable to get work for the entire year.
India is aiming at Self-sufficiency in Foodgrains since Independence
- After independence, Indian policymakers adopted all measures to achieve self-sufficiency in food grains. India adopted a new strategy in agriculture, which resulted in the ‘Green Revolution’ especially in the production of wheat and rice.
- Since the advent of the Green revolution in the early-‘70s, the country has avoided famine even during adverse weather conditions.
Impact of Green Revolution
- The success of the Green Revolution has made India self-sufficient in good grains.
- Because of Green Revolution, there was an increase in the production of wheat and rice.
- A higher rate of growth was achieved in Punjab and Haryana.
- Tami Nadu and Andhra Pradesh recorded a significant increase in rice yield.
- The increase in the production of foodgrains helps the Government to build buffer stock.
- This buffer stock led to food security.
Food Security in India
India has become self-sufficient in foodgrains during the thirty years because of a variety of crops grow in the whole country. The availability of foodgrains at the country level has further been ensured with a carefully designed food designed system. This system has two components: (a) Buffer Stock (b) Public Distribution System.
What is Buffer Stock?
Buffer Stock refers to the stock of foodgrains, namely wheat and rice procured by the government through the Food Corporation of India (FCI). The FCI purchases wheat and rice from the farmers in states where there is surplus production. FCI procures wheat and rice from the market immediately after harvesting these crops. The stocks are released for sale through the Fair Price Shops. The principal objective of buffer stock is to maintain stability in the prices of food grains. The prices stability is essential to protect the interests of both producers and consumers: of course, different conditions favour producers and consumers.
- If there is a bumper crop: by guaranteeing to purchase crops at a pre-announced price, the government ensures that the price of wheat does not crash, and farmers interests are protected.
- If there is a crop deficit: in this situation, wheat would be released from the buffer stock; it would be made available for sale in the market, Supply of wheat would increase. price of wheat could come down. Thus buffer stocks help to protect the interests of both producers and consumers.
What is Public Distribution System (PDS)?
The food procured by the FCI is distributed through government-regulated ration shops among the poorer section of the society. This is called the Public Distribution System (PDS). Ration shops are now present in most localities, villages, towns and cities. There are about 4.6 lakh ration shops all over the country. Rations shops also know as Fair Price Shops, keep stock of foodgrains, sugar, and kerosene oil for cooking. These items are sold to people at a price lower than the market price. Any family with a ration card can buy a stipulated amount of these items every month from the nearby ration shops.
History of Rationing in India
The introduction of Rationing in India dates back to the 1940s against the backdrop of the Bengal Famine. The rationing system was revived in the wake of an acute food shortage during the 1960s, prior to the Green Revolution. In the wake of the high incidence of poverty levels, as reported by NSSO in the mid-1970s, three important food intervention programmes were introduced.
- Public Distribution System for Foodgrains (in existence earlier but strengthened thereafter).
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) introduced in 1975 on an experimental basis.
- Food-for-work programme introduced in 1977-78.
- At present, there are several Poverty Alleviation Programmes (PAPs), mostly in rural areas, which have an explicit food component also. While some of the programmes such as PDS, mid-day meals etc. are exclusively food security Programmers, most of the PAPs also enhance food security.
Current States of Public Distribution System
- In 1992, Revamped Public Distribution System (RPDS) was introduced in 1,700 blocks in the country. the target was to provide the benefits of PDS to remote and backward areas.
- Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) was introduced to adopt the principle of targeting the ‘poor in all areas’. it was for the first time that a differential price was adopted for the poor and non-poor.
- Two special schemes were launched in 2000. (a) Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) (b) Annapurna Scheme (APS) with special target groups of ‘poorest of the poor’ and ‘indigent senior citizens.
National Food for Work Programme
This scheme was launched on November 14, 2004, in the 150 most backward districts of the country with the objective of intensifying the generation of supplementary wage employment. The programme is open to all rural poor who are in need of wage employment and desire to do manual unskilled work. It is implemented as a 100 per cent centrally sponsored scheme and the food grains are provided to States free of cost. The Collector is the nodal officer at the district level and has the overall responsibility of planning, implementation, coordination, monitoring and supervision. For 2004-05, Rs 2,020 crore have been allocated for the programme in addition to 20 lakh tones of foodgrains.
Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY)
This scheme was launched in December 2000. Under this scheme, one crore of the poorest among the BPL families covered under the targeted public distribution system was identified. Poor families were identified by the respective state rural development departments through a Below Poverty Line (BPL) survey. Twenty-five kilograms of foodgrains was made available family at a highly subsidized rate of Rs 2 per kg for wheat and Rs 3 per for rice. This quantity has been enhanced from 25 to 35 kgs with effect from April 2002. the scheme has been further expended twice by additional 50 lack BPL families in June 2003 and in August 2004. With this increase, 2 crore families have been covered under the AAY.
Try yourself:Antyodaya Anna Yojana and Annapurna Scheme are linked with :
Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) is a government scheme to provide highly subsidised food to millions of the poorest families. It was launched by the Union government on 25 December 2000 and first implemented in Rajasthan. So the answer is Option A.
Achievement of Public Distribution System
- The PDS has proved to be the most effective instrument of government policy over the years in stabilising prices and making food available to consumers at affordable prices.
- The system, including the minimum support price and procurement, has contributed to an increase in food grain production and provided income security to farmers in certain regions.
Problem Associated with Public Distribution System
- There is a general consensus that a high level of buffer stocks of foodgrains is very undesirable and can be wasteful. the storage of massive food stocks has been responsible for high carrying costs, in addition to wastage and deterioration in grain quality.
- The increase in food grain procurement at enhanced MSP is the result of the pressure exerted by leading foodgrain producing states, such as Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh.
- PDS dealers are sometimes found resorting to malpractices like diverting the grains to the open market to get a better margin, selling poor quality grains at ration shops, the irregular opening of the shops, etc.
Role of Cooperatives in Food Security
- The cooperative is also playing an important role in food security in India especially in the southern and western parts of the country.
- The cooperative societies set up shops to sell low priced goods to poor people.
- In Delhi, Mother Dairy is making strides in the provision of milk and vegetables to the consumers at a controlled rate decided by the Government of Delhi. Amul is another success story of cooperatives in milk and milk products from Gujarat.
- In Maharashtra, the Academy of Development Science (ADS) has facilitated a network of NGOs for set6ting up grain banks in different regions.
- ADS organises training and capacity building programmes on food security for NGOs.
- Grain Banks are now slowly taking shape in different parts of Maharashtra. Ads efforts to set up Grain Banks, to facility replication through other NGOs and to influence the Government’s policy on food security are thus paying rich dividends.