Mains GS Paper 3: Issues of Buffer Stocks and Food Security.
What is Food security?
Food Security: Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
Initiatives towards ensuring Food Security
- Article 47 of the Constitution of India states that it is the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.
- Supreme Court in its judgment noted that “Right to Food is a fundamental right available under Article 21 of the Constitution”.
- Indian Government’s Initiatives for Food security
- Public Distribution System (PDS):PDS facilitates the supply of food grains and distribution of essential commodities to a large number of poor people through a network of Fair Price Shops at a subsidized price on a recurring basis.
- Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY): Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) was a step in the direction of making TPDS aim at reducing hunger among the poorest segments of the BPL population
- Mid-Day Meal Scheme: Mid-day meal (MDM) is a wholesome freshly-cooked lunch served to children in government and government-aided schools in India with aim to avoid classroom hunger, increase school enrolment ,increase school attendance, improve socialisation among castes ,address malnutrition ,empower women through employment.
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS): Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme is a unique program focused on early childhood care and development aimed to improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years.
- Annapurna Scheme: Annapurna Scheme aims at providing food security to meet the requirement of those Senior Citizens who though eligible have remained uncovered under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS).
- National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS): National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) is a scheme aimed to provide financial aid and social protection to older citizens in India who are below the poverty line.
- National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS): NMBS provides for the payment of Rs. 500 per pregnancy to women belonging to poor households for pre-natal and post-natal maternity care upto first two live births.
National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS):Under National Family Benefit Scheme a BPL household is entitled to a lump sum amount of money on the death of primary breadwinner aged between 18 and 64 years.
- Global Initiative for Food Security:
- SAVE FOOD by FAO for reduction of waste and Food Loss .
- SDG Goal 2(Zero Hunger):End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
- High-Level Task Force (HLTF)on Global Food and Nutrition Security: To promote a comprehensive and unified response of the international community to the challenge of achieving global food and nutrition security.
- World Bank Group partnership on Food Security works with partners to build food systems that can feed everyone, everywhere, every day by improving food security, promoting ‘nutrition-sensitive agriculture’ and improving food safety.
Salient features of National Food Security Act, (NFSA) 2013:
- The Public Distribution System (PDS) is governed through the provisions of the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA).
- Coverage under PDS is de-linked from the erstwhile ‘poverty estimates’.
- The Act provides coverage for nearly 2/3rd of the country’s total population, on the basis of Census 2011 population estimates.
- 75% of Rural and 50% of Urban population is entitled to receive highly subsidised food grains under two categories of beneficiaries – Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households and Priority Households (PHH).
- State/UT-wise coverage is determined by the erstwhile Planning Commission (now NITI Ayog) on the basis of 2011-12 Household Consumption Expenditure survey of NSSO.
- The Act entitles 35 kg of foodgrains per AAY Household per month, whereas 5 Kg of foodgrain per PHH Person per month.
- Identification of beneficiaries/households under NFSA is done by the respective State/UT Government, which is required to frame its own criteria.
- Highly subsidised Central Issue Prices of Re.1, Rs.2 and Rs.3 for Coarse-grains, Wheat and Rice respectively, kept unchanged till June 2019.
- No reduction in foodgrains allocation to any State/UT under NFSA. Allocation gaps, if any, are covered with Tide-Over allocation.
- Eldest woman of the beneficiary household (18 years or above) is considered as ‘Head of Family’ for the purpose of issuing ration cards.
- Grievance redressal mechanism, through State Food Commissions, DGROs, Vigilance Committees at different levels.
- Provisions for disclosure of records relating to PDS operations, placing of beneficiaries’ list in public domain/portals, for enhanced transparency.
- Assistance to States/UTs for meeting expenditure on intra-State transportation & handling of foodgrains and FPS Dealers’ margin.
Challenges in achieving food security
- Climate Change: Changing climate, leading to unanticipated consequences for the country’s food grain production creating a huge impact on both food production and socio-economic aspects by causing considerable changes in land use patterns and water resource availability.
- Crop Diversification: Due to Green revolution most agricultural production shifted towards mono cropping such as rice and wheat production leading to land degradation, desertification and loss of genetic variety.
- Agricultural Pricing Policy: Combination of lack of remunerative prices for end goods, distressed sales, high cultivation costs combined with inappropriate market prices are a barrier in the path of food security.
- Bio-fuel and Medicinal Plant Cultivation: Another issue for the country is the diversification of field crops such as maize, wheat, and Medicinal Plants such as Ashwagandha, Sarpogandha, and Jatropha to Bio-Fuel.
- Production of High Yielding Varieties: New types of field crops are another major challenge for food grain production as the environment changes.
- New globalisation trends, such as speedier communication, transportation, and significant development in service industries, have created difficulties of unfairness among diverse parts of society, as well as unenthusiastic rivalry among entrepreneurs. As a result, impoverished farmers are unable to utilise existing facilities, and the globalised world is discouraged, which has indirectly increased food insecurity in the country.
- Capital Investment: In recent years, agriculture’s share of capital investment in GDP has remained unchanged.
- Improve agricultural productivity and Food storage through increased use of irrigation and newer farming techniques, rationale distribution of cultivable land ,improving the size of the farms,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.
- Ensuring food availability and accessibility to below poverty line (BPL) candidates at affordable price by accurate targeting of the BPL population, remove restrictions on food grains regarding inter-State movement, stocking, exports and trade financing,creating transparent and reliable Public Distribution System.
- Improving purchasing power through employment generating schemes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA),enhancing quantity and quality of wage-paid employment.
- Ensuring that nutritional objectives should be an integral part of all the poverty alleviation programmes.
- Increasing Crop diversification, establishing food grain banks and promoting household gardening.
- Community awareness through Information, Education and Communication(IEC )activities and social marketing.
- Monitoring and timely evaluation of nutritional programmes.
- Community participation and intersectoral coordination.
- Encouragement to Horticulture Products: Horticulture goods require encouragement in order to increase per capita availability of food while also assuring food security.
- Infrastructure Requirements: The government should prioritise warehouses, roads, transportation, and market facilities. Encouragement of the PPP model in agriculture will result in speedier infrastructure development.