Food security in India

According to UN-India, there are nearly 195 million undernourished people in India, which is a quarter of the world’s hunger burden.

Roughly 43% of children in India are chronically undernourished.

People Below Poverty Line in India decreased to around 22% in 2011-12. The Poverty percentage was calculated using the Tendulkar methodology.

According to Global Hunger Index, 2020, India rank has improved to 94th position out of the 107 countries but much behind countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.

What is Food Security? 

Food security is 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 in India is a major challenge and there are several aspects to it. With an ever-growing population and decreasing productive land, food security is even harder to achieve than before. The foremost challenge to food security in India is the unpredictable weather situation

In order to achieve food security in equitable manner to all the citizens of India, Parliament enacted Food Security Act, 2013. It is responsible to provide food security at rate of 75% in rural and 50% in Urban areas.

Antyodaya Yojana and Priority householders are the main beneficiaries of these act. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution is the nodal ministry for the implementation of food subsidy. Allocation to this Ministry accounts for 7% of the budget of the central government in 2021-22.

Silent features of Food Security act, 2013 are:

  • Foodgrains are distributed at subsidized rates.
  • Targeted Public Distribution System.
  • Food Security Allowance.
  • Transparency provisions are made available to avoid loop holes.

Significance of Act:

  1. To boost the Agriculture sector.
  2. Aids the Government to Regulate the Prices.
  3. Enhance reduction in poverty.
  4. Access to nutritious food.
  5. Also important for global security and national stability.

Food Security Programs in India:

  1. Public Distribution System.
  2. Mid-day Meal Scheme.
  3. Integrated Child Development Services scheme.
  4. Mega Food Parks.
  5. Sampada Yojana.

Challenges in achieving Food Security:

  • Implementing measures to improve agricultural productivity and food storage

The government policy needs to adopt an integrated policy framework to facilitate the increased use of irrigation and newer farming techniques. The measures should focus mainly on rationale distribution of cultivable land, improving the size of the farms and providing security to the tenant cultivators apart from providing the farmers with improved technology for cultivation and improved inputs like irrigation facilities, availability of better quality seeds, fertilizers and credits at lower interest rates. One main reason why food is not distributed equitably is that a significant amount is wasted.

It would be useful to adopt strategies for food storage which have been implemented successfully in other countries.

  • Ensuring food availability and accessibility to below poverty line (BPL) candidates

This can be done by more accurate targeting of the BPL population so that they get food at substantially low price. There is a problem associated with the identification of BPL. There is a debate about the exact number of people falling under this category. Besides helping out the BPL population, there should be a provision for subsidy on the sale of food grains to above poverty line (APL) customers too. Also, all restrictions on food grains regarding inter-State movement, stocking, exports and trade financing should be removed. This will reduce the food prices and increase affordability. The Public Distribution System must be made transparent and reliable.

  • Improving purchasing power through employment generating schemes

The government should come up with more holistic schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Poverty alleviation programmes like the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) and employment generation schemes like Jawahar Rozgar Yojana, Nehru Rozgar Yojana etc need to be re-oriented and up scaled to make a positive impact on the purchasing power of the lower socio-economic segment of the population. Also, it is equally important to enhance the quantity and quality of wage-paid employment. Focus needs to be shifted to the workers in the informal sector by providing decent wages and healthy working conditions. In the urban areas, providing assistance to the small scale enterprises will lead to expansion of employment opportunities. It should be ensured that nutritional objectives should be an integral part of all the poverty alleviation programmes.

  • Crop diversification, establishing food grain banks and promoting household gardening

Another area which needs to be explored is ‘crop diversification’. Higher profitability and the stability in production highlight the importance of crop diversification, e.g. legumes alternative with rice and wheat. Growing of non-cereal crops such as oilseeds, fruits and vegetables etc need to be encouraged. The creation of decentralized food grain banks in each village or block of the district, from which people may get subsidized food grains against food coupons, will be a good option. This concept will improve the delivery of food grains and eliminate corruption.

One of the ways to ensure direct access to good quality food that can be easily grown and prepared could be the concept of home gardening.

  • Community awareness through IEC activities and social marketing

Need based IEC and training materials should be developed for effective dissemination of nutrition messages. Local community education on key family health and nutrition practices using participatory and planned communication methodologies will be helpful. Incorporating health and nutrition education into formal school curriculum for girls and adult literacy programmes could greatly improve women’s health and nutrition. Social marketing of iodized salt, iron and folic acid and vitamin A supplements, nutritious food mixes and other low cost vitamin/mineral preparations will prove to be beneficial.

  • Monitoring and timely evaluation of nutritional programmes

A complete community based approach needs to be adopted. Focus on even simple interventions like promoting exclusive breastfeeding, proper complementary feeding and growth monitoring and promotion (GMP) can be expected to give outstanding results. Efforts should be made by the concerned health departments and authorities to initiate and supervise the functioning of the nutrition related schemes in an efficient way. Annual surveys and rapid assessments surveys could be some of the ways through which program outcomes can be measured. Evaluations must be timely performed and should provide relevant information regarding the effectiveness of interventions. Use of information technology to improve program monitoring can be thought of too.

  • Community participation and intersectoral coordination

Revamping of existing direct nutrition programmes to enable management by women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) and /or local bodies along with orientation and training of community health workers, Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members, other opinion leaders, care givers and other stakeholders can be another area, if addressed, can give positive results. Delivering very basic, well-targeted package of nutrition services through a multi-sectorial approach will improve the nutrition level of people. Attention needs to be given to school based interventions including hygiene, sanitation and nutrition education. Community based nutrition programs (CBNP) which create scope for community participation, must be facilitated by effective policy implementation.

  • Ethical Considerations

Ethical issue principles including plagiarism, informed consent, misconduct, data fabrication and/or falsification, double publication and/or submission, redundancy, etc. have been completely observed by the authors.

Solutions:

    • Enhance food storage capacities like cold chain technology.
    • Increase Irrigation.
    • Fertilizer availability.
    • Focus should be kept on employment provisions through various sectors.
    • Community Participation.
    • Crop Diversification.
    • Enhance Renewable Energy generation speedily.

Department of Food and Public Distribution:

A department integral to the well-being of the citizens of a country, the department of food and public distribution works for the timely and efficient availability of food for every individual.

Functions of the department are:

    • To ensure food security of India through continuous procurement and distribution of food.
    • To provide the proper value of grains to the farmers.
    • To devise policies on import and export of food, sugar and edible oils.

International Organizations for food security:

Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO):

FAO was established as a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1945 with the objective is to help eliminate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.

World Food Program (WFP):

WFP was founded in 1963 for tackling food emergencies and initiating programs to combat hunger worldwide.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD):

Set up in 1977 by United Nations, IFAD focuses on rural poverty reduction, working with poor rural populations in developing countries to eliminate poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.

World Bank:

World Bank is one of the oldest international organizations in the world and it was founded in 1944, the World Bank is actively involved in funding food projects and programs.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP):

It was founded in 1972 as this institute for environmental issues but has been involved in tacking food crisis resulting from environmental issues.

Revolution for Food Security and Enhancing Production:

    • Green Revolution – Agriculture Production
    • Pink Revolution – Meat and Poultry Production
    • Red Revolution – Meat & Tomato Production
    • Round Revolution – Potato Revolution
    • Silver Revolution – Egg/Poultry Production
    • White Revolution – Milk/Dairy production
    • Yellow Revolution – Oil Seeds production
    • Blue Revolution – Fish Production
    • Brown Revolution – Leather /Cocoa production
    • Golden Revolution – Horticulture and Honey Production.