Class 9 Economics Food Security in India
“TO A MAN WITH EMPTY STOMACH, FOOD IS GOD” MAHATMA GANDHI
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.
What is food security?
- Food security is when people have reliable access to sufficient, affordable, nutritious food to support a healthy life.
- Food security depends on the Public Distribution of System (PDS) and government vigilance and action at times when this security is threatened.
- In the 1970s, food security was understood as the “availability at all times of adequate supply of basic food stuffs”- (UN, 1975).
- Amartya Sen added a new dimension to food security and emphasized the ‘access’ to food through what he called ‘entitlements’ i.e a combination of what one can produce, exchange in the market along with the state or other socially provided supplies. Accordingly, there has been a substantiate shift in the understanding of food security.
- The 1995 world food summit declared – “food security at the individual, household, regional, national and global levels 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.”
DIMENSIONS OF FOOD SECURITY
- AVAILABILLTY OF FOOD: it means production when the country, food imports and the previous year’s stocks stored in governments granaries.
- ACCESSIBILITY OF FOOD : means food is within reach of every person.
- AFFORDABILITY OF FOOD: it 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 if-
- Enough food is available for all the persons.
- All person have the capacity to buy food of acceptable quality and there is no barrier on access to food.
WHY FOOD SECURITY?
The poorest section of the society might be food insecure most of the times while persons above the poverty line might also be food insecure. When the country faces a national disaster/calamity like earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami or widespread failure of crops causes famine.
Famine is charactarised by wide spread deaths due to starvation and epidemics caused by the forced use of contaminated water or decaying food and loss of body resistance due to weakening from starvation.
Example: the most devastating famine that occurred in India’s was the ‘famine of Bengal’ in 1943. The famine killed 30 lakh people in the province of Bengal.
Note- As the famine got worse 70,000 tons of rice were exported from India between January and July 1943.
HOW A FOOD SECURITY AFFECTED DURING A CALAMITY?
- Due to natural calamity, say drought total production of food grains decreases.
- It creates a shortage of food in the affected areas. Due to shortage of food, prices go up.
- At the high prices, some people can’t afford to buy food.
- If such calamity happens in a very widespread area, or is stretched over a longer time period, it may cause situation of ‘starvation’.
- A massive starvation might lead to famine.
WHO SUFFER FROM FOOD INSECURITY?
In rural areas, the worst affected groups that suffer from food and nutrition insecurity in are landless people with little or no land to depend upon, traditional services, pelt 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 labour market.
FOOD INSECURITY AND INEQUALITY
- The social composition along with the inability to buy food also plays a role in food insecurity.
- The SCs, STs and some section of OBCs, who have either poor land base or very low land productivity and prone to food insecurity.
- The people affected by the natural disasters, who have to migrate to other areas in search of work, are also along the most food insecure people.
- A large proportion of pregnant and nursing mothers and children under the age of 5 years constitute an important segment of food insecure population.
- The states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa,, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, parts of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra account for the largest number of food insecure people in the country.
Another aspects indicating food insecurity:
Hunger is not just a expression of poverty, it brings about Poverty. The attainment of food security therefore involves eliminating current hunger and reducing the risk of future hunger.
DIMENSION OF HUNGER
- CHRONIC HUNGER
It is a consequence of diets persistently inadequate in terms of quantity and quality.
Poor people suffer from chronic hunger because of their very low income and in turn inability to buy food even for survival.
2. SEASONAL HUNGER
- It is related to cycles of food growing and harvesting. This is prevalent in rural areas because of the seasonal nature of agriculture activities and in urban areas because of casual labourers.
- Strategy adopted to attain self sufficiency in food grains.
- After Independence, Indian policy makers adopted all measures to achieve self sufficiency in food grains.
- India adopted a new strategy in agriculture which resulted in green revolution, especially in the production of wheat and rice.
- Indira Gandhi, the then prime minister of India, officially recorded the impressive strides of Green Revolution in agriculture by releasing a special stamp entitled- “wheat revolution in July 1968”
FOOD SECURITY IN INDIA
- Since the advent of the green revolution in the early 1970s the country has avoided famine even during adverse weather conditions.
- India has become all sufficient in food grains during the last 30 years because of variety of crops grown all over the country.
- The availability of food grains at the country level has further been ensured with a carefully designed food security system by the government.
- The system has two components
- Buffer Stock
- Public Distribution System (PDS)
- It is the stock of food grains 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.
- The farmers are paid a preannounced price for their crops is called MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICE (MSP).
PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION SYSYTEM
The food procured by the FCI is distributed through government regulated rations shops among the poorer section of the society. This is called Public Distribution System (PDS).
NOTE: – There are about 5.5 lakh ration shops all over the country.
Three kinds of Ration Cards are:
- Antyodaya cards
For the poorest of the poor there is a provision providing them an opportunity to purchase up to 35 kilograms of rice and wheat at a highly subsidized cost of Rs 3 per kg of rice and Rs 2 per kg of wheat.
- Below Poverty Line Card (BPL)
It is for those who are below the poverty line.
- Above poverty line Card (APL)
RATIONING IN INDIA
The introduction of rationing in India dates back to the 1940s against the backdrops 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 high incidence of poverty levels, as reported by the NSSO in the 1970s, three important food intervention programmes were introduced.
- Public Distribution System (PDS): for food grains (in existence earlier but strengthened thereafter).
- Integrated Child Development services (ICDS): introduced in 1975 on an experimental basis).
- Food For Work (FFW): Introduced in 1977-78.
- After that, the National Food Security Act 2013 introduced.
NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY ACT (2013)
This act provides for food and nutritional security life at affordable prices and enabled people to live with dignity. Under this act, 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population have been categorized as eligible households for food security.
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