The chapter emphasises the critical nature of food security and the situation of those who are food insecure. Additionally, we learn about government initiatives aimed at addressing issues such as food insecurity. Students in Class 9 will gain an understanding of how our country addresses food insecurity by reading this chapter.
What is Food Security?
Food security means availability, accessibility and affordability of food to all people at all times. The poor people are more vulnerable to food insecurity.
Food security depends on the Public Distribution System (PDS) and government vigilance and action at times, when this security is threatened.
Dimensions of Food Security
Availability of food: It means food production within the country, food imports and the previous years stock stored in government granaries.
Accessibility: It means food is accessible to all.
Affordability: It means Food is affordable to all & an individual can buy enough food to fulfil his dietary needs.
How is food security ensured in a country?
Food security can be ensured a country by:
Enough availability of food for all.
Food should be of acceptable quality and all persons should have the capacity to buy it.
No barrier should be there on the accessibility of food.
Why is food security important?
Food security is Important as many sections of the society are vulnerable to food insecurity and do not get the proper amount of food. As during any natural calamity the production of food grains decreases causing shortage of food and the prices go high. In this situation many people cannot afford to buy food which may cause a situation of ‘Starvation’.
A massive starvation may lead to Famine. For this reason food security is important.
What is a Famine?
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including war, inflation, crop failure, population imbalance, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality.
FAMINE of 1943 in Bengal was the most devastating famine in India.
No. of Deaths: 30 Lakhs in Bengal Province
There are also places where famine-like situations occurred. (Kalahandi and Kashipur in Orissa also in various parts of Rajasthan and Bihar)
Who is 'food-insecure'?
A large number of people suffer from food insecurity in India, the 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 beggars.
In Urban areas affected workers are those who are employed in ill- paid jobs.
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.
A high incidence of malnutrition prevails among women. This is a matter of serious concern as it puts even the unborn baby at the risk of malnutrition.
According to the National Health and Family Survey (NHFS) 1998–99, the number of such women and children is approximately 11 crore.
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 risks of future hunger.
It has Chronic and seasonal dimensions
It is a consequence of diets persistently inadequate in terms of quantity and/or quality. Poor people suffer from chronic hunger because of their very low income and in turn inability to buy food even for survival.
It is related to cycles of food growing and harvesting. This is prevalent in rural areas because of the seasonal nature of agricultural activities and in urban areas because of casual labourers.
India has been aiming at Self-sufficiency in Food grains since Independence. India also adopted a new strategy ‘Green Revolution’.
After realising the impressive growth of the green revolution, prime minister Indra Gandhi released special stamps entitled ‘Wheat Revolution’ in July 1968.
The highest rate of growth was achieved in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, which was 44.01 and 30.21 million tonnes in 2015–16. Total Food grain Production: 252.22 million tonnes (2015-16).
West Bengal and UP, on the other hand, recorded significant production of rice 15.75 and 12.51 Million tonnes.
Food Security in India
After the Green Revolution the country has avoided famine even during adverse weather conditions.
India has become self-sufficient in food grains during the last 30 years because of a variety of crops grown all over the country.
Availability of food grain in the averse weather condition has also been ensured with a proper food security system.
What is Buffer Stock?
It is a stock of food grains procured by the government through the Food Corporation of India (FCI).
FCI purchases wheat and rice from the farmers where surplus production is there and they pay a pre announced price.
This pre announced price is known as Minimum Support Price.
MSP is declared every year before the sowing season to provide incentives to farmers for raising the production of these crops.
This is done to distribute food-grains in the deficit areas and among the poorer strata of the society at a price lower than the market price also known as Issue Price.
What is the Public Distribution System?
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).
The Ration shops are now present in most localities, villages, towns and cities. These shops are also known as Fair Price Shops. Food grains, Sugar, Oil for cooking are sold at these shops at cheaper rates than the market. Any family with ration cards can buy these essentials.
Types of Ration Card
There are three kinds of ration cards:
Antyodaya cards for the poorest of the poor
BPL cards for those below poverty line
APL cards for all others.
Introduction of Rationing in India
Introduction 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.
Three important food intervention programmes were introduced by NSSO:
Public Distribution System (PDS) for food grains.
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) in 1975.
Food-for-Work in 1977-78
There are several Poverty Alleviation Programmes (PAPs), mostly in rural areas, which have an explicit food component also. Some of the programmes such as PDS, mid-day meals etc. are exclusively food security programmes, most of the PAPs also enhance food security.
Employment programmes greatly contribute to food security by increasing the income of the poor.
The National Food Security Act, 2013
This Act provides for food and nutritional security at affordable prices and enables people to live a life with dignity.
Under this, 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population have been categorised as eligible households for food security.
Current Status of Public the Distribution System
● Public Distribution System (PDS) is the most important step taken by the Government of India towards ensuring food security.
● The coverage of PDS was universal with no discrimination between the poor and the non-poor in the beginning.
● The policy of PDS has been revised to make it more efficient and targeted Revamped Public Distribution System was introduced in 1992.
● RPDS was introduced in 1700 blocks in the country; its 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’.
Two Special schemes were also launched in 2000, Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Annapurna Scheme (APS) with special target groups of ‘poorest of the poor’ and ‘indigent senior citizens’
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 minimum support price and procurement has contributed to an increase in foodgrain production and provided income security to farmers.
Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY)
AAY was launched in December 2000. One crore of the poorest among the BPL families covered under the targeted public distribution system were identified. Poor families were identified by the respective state rural development departments through a Below Poverty Line (BPL) survey.
Twenty-five kilograms of food grains were made available to each eligible family at a highly subsidised rate of Rs 2 per kg for wheat and Rs 3 per kg for rice, with 35 kg qty. The scheme has been further expanded twice by additional 50 lakh BPL families in June 2003 and in August 2004.
What is Subsidy?
Subsidy is a payment that a government makes to a producer to supplement the market price of a commodity. Subsidies can keep consumer prices low while maintaining a higher income for domestic producers.
FCI Godowns were over Flooded
● The stock of wheat and rice with FCI was 65.3 million tonnes which was more than minimum buffer norms.
● High carrying cost, deterioration of food grains was happening.
● The situation improved with the distribution of food-grains under different schemes launched by the government.
● The increased food grains procurement at enhanced MSP is the result of the pressure exerted by leading food-grain producing states, such as Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh.
The rising Minimum Support Prices (MSP) have raised the maintenance cost of procuring food-grains by the government. Rising transportation and storage costs of the FCI are other contributing factors in this increase.
Role of Cooperatives in the Food Security
The cooperative societies set up shops to sell low priced goods to poor people.
● In Tamil Nadu, around 94 per cent of fair price shops are run by the cooperatives.
● In Delhi, Mother Dairy is making strides in 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. It has brought about the White Revolution in the country.
● In Maharashtra, Academy of Development Science (ADS) has facilitated a network of NGOs for setting up grain banks in different regions.
These are a few examples of many more cooperatives running in different parts of the country ensuring food security of different sections of society.