CBSE NCERT Class IX (9th) | Social Studies | Economics
CHAPTER: 4. FOOD SECURITY IN INDIA
Introduction to Food Security
The purpose of food security is to ensure that everyone always have enough to eat. Food security exists when there is enough food available for all; the available food is accessible to all; and everybody can afford to buy sufficient food.
People living in poverty suffer from lack of food security most of the time as they cannot afford food. In situations of natural disasters like flood, drought and earthquake, the problem of food security assumes larger proportions and affects a larger number of people.
Natural calamities like flood and drought destroy crops and existing food stocks triggering a chain reaction. Destruction and a decrease in the production of food cause a decrease in the availability of food. A decrease in the availability of food causes food prices to rise. The rise in food prices decreases the affordability, and more people are unable to buy food.
A natural calamity affecting a large area for a long duration of time leads to starvation and conditions of famine.
A famine results in a large number of deaths due to starvation and epidemics that spread due to the forced use of contaminated food and water, and the loss of body resistance due to hunger. The worst famine in Indian history was the Bengal famine that hit the Bengal province of British India in 1943.
In India, deaths due to starvation are often reported from Kalahandi and Kashipur in Orissa, Baran in Rajasthan and Palamu in Jharkhand.
Food Insecure Groups in India
The economically backward states, the tribal and remote areas, and areas prone to natural disasters like droughts and floods have a higher percentage of people with food insecurity.
Hunger is both a cause and effect of poverty and indicates food insecurity. Hunger is of two types: Chronic hunger and seasonal hunger. Chronic hunger is a result of consistently low quantity and quality of diet.
Seasonal hunger is a result of low quantity and quality of diet for a short period of time. Both chronic and seasonal hunger has decreased in rural and urban India. Food security requires elimination of present and future hunger.
India has made rapid strides in attaining self-sufficiency in food, and to provide food security to its large population. The introduction of modern farming methods brought about the Green Revolution in India marked by a dramatic increase in the production of food grains.
The success of the Green Revolution was not uniform across India. In the states of Punjab and Haryana, wheat production increased by more than four times from 1965 to 1995. The states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh saw a significant rise in rice production. The states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa, and the north-eastern states did not show any significant rise in food grain production.
Food security system in India
Since the Green Revolution, food grain production in India has increased manifold. The food security system in India consists of the creation of buffer stocks of food grains and their distribution through the public distribution system. Every year, after the harvest of food grains like wheat and rice, the government buys food grains from farmers through the Food Corporation of India.
The food grains so procured are stored in warehouses of the FCI. This stock of food grains is called the buffer stock. The buffer stock is used to prevent a shortage of food in adverse conditions like crop failure and natural calamities.
People having a ration card can buy a fixed amount of sugar and food grains every month from a fair price shop. There are three kinds of ration cards in India. The Antyodaya cards for the poorest of the poor, the BPL cards for people living below the poverty line and the APL cards for all other people.
The rationing of food in India began after the Bengal famine in 1943. The need for food rationing was further underlined by the severe shortage of food in India in the 1950s and 1960s, before the Green Revolution. The high poverty ratio reported by the National Sample Survey Organization in 1970 prompted the government to launch three important programmes related to food security.
These programmes included strengthening of the existing public distribution system, and the introduction of the integrated child development services and the food for work programme. The government has also launched several poverty alleviation programs that enhance food security by increasing the poor people’s income and their affordability of food.
Current status of PDS
Public Distribution System is one of the most important programs run by the government to ensure food security in India. Till 1992, public distribution system applied universally to the entire population of India. All the people holding ration cards could buy food from the ration shops at uniform subsidized rates. In 1992, a revamped public distribution system was introduced in 1700 backward blocks in the country.
In 1997, the targeted public distribution system was introduced to extend the PDS benefits to the poor in all areas of the country. In the year 2000, two special schemes called the Antyodaya Ann Yojana and the Annapurna Scheme were introduced through the public distributions system.
The Antyodaya Ann Yojana was aimed at the poorest of the poor and The Annapurna Scheme was aimed at needy senior citizens.
The positive features of public distribution system are:
- Public distribution system has helped in keeping food prices stable by providing food to people at subsidized rates.
- Public distribution system has prevented large scale hunger and famine by supplying food from surplus regions to the deficit ones.
- Efforts have been made to extend benefits of public distribution system to the poorest of the poor.
- Procurement of food grains at attractive minimum support prices has provided assured income to farmers and boosted food grain production.
- Procurement of food grains by the Food Corporation of India to create a buffer stock is an essential requirement for public distribution system.
The negative features of public distribution system are:
- Maintaining such large stocks is expensive and wasteful due to rotting and deterioration of food grains in storage houses.
- Procurement of wheat and rice at enhanced minimum support prices has diverted farmers from growing other food grains like jowar and bajra.
- Increasing cultivation of water intensive crops like rice is leading to over exploitation of limited water resources in many areas.
- Frequent complaints against PDS dealers like diversion of good quality grain to open market selling poor quality grain and keeping irregular shop timings.
- Unsold stocks left with PDS dealers.
- Till 1997 all families with ration cards could buy a fixed quota of food grains and sugar from ration shops at uniform subsidized rates.
- Now people with above poverty line ration cards get very little subsidy on prices and thus, have little incentive to buy from ration shops.
- The unequal effectiveness of PDS in different states.
Role of Cooperatives in Food Security
Cooperative societies in India are playing a significant role in ensuring food security and are more active in western and southern regions of the country. In Tamil Nadu, around 94% of all Fair Price shops run under the Public Distribution System are managed by cooperatives.
Mother Dairy is a cooperative that sells milk and vegetables at fixed rates decided by the Delhi government.
Anand Milk Union Limited or Amul, Gujarat is one of the most successful cooperatives in India. Amul gave a tremendous boost to milk production leading to the white revolution in India. Amul not only encourages dairy farming, but also provides a variety of milk products to consumers all over the country.
The Academy of Development Studies in Maharashtra is a society devoted to welfare of tribals and rural communities. ADS has set up grain banks in tribal and rural areas with the help of local NGOs to ffod security.
A grain bank functions like a normal bank. The members can make deposits of surplus grain after harvest and make withdrawls during lean periods. Grain bank members can also take loans in the form of grain and repay the loans with interest at the time of the next harvest.