Food Security

Agriculture of Class 10

If any segment of our population does not have this access, that segment suffers from lack of food security. The number of people who do not have food security is disproportionately large in some regions of our country, particularly in economically less developed states with higher incidence of poverty. The remote areas of the country are more prone to natural disasters and uncertain food supply. In order to ensure availability of food to all sections of society our government carefully designed a national food security system. It consists of two components

  • buffer stock and
  • public distribution system (PDS).

Public Distribution System: PDS is a programme which provides food grains and other essential commodities at subsidised prices in rural and urban areas. India’s food security policy has a primary objective to ensure availability of foodgrains to the common people at an affordable price. It has enabled the poor to have access to food. The focus of the policy is on growth in agriculture production and on fixing the support price for procurement of wheat and rice, to maintain their stocks. Food Corporation of India (FCI) is responsible for procuring and stocking foodgrains, whereas distribution is ensured by public distribution system (PDS).

The FCI procures foodgrains from the farmers at the government announced minimum support price (MSP). The government used to provide subsidies on agriculture inputs such as fertilizers, power and water. These subsidies have now reached unsustainable levels and have also led to large scale inefficiencies in the use of these scarce inputs. Excessive and imprudent use of fertilizers and water has led to waterlogging, salinity and depletion of essential micronutrients in the soil. The high MSP, subsidies in input and committed FCI purchases have distorted the cropping pattern. Wheat and paddy crops are being grown more for the MSP they get. Punjab and Haryana are foremost examples. This has also created a serious imbalance in inter-crop parities.

In PDS consumers are divided into two categories:

  • Below poverty line(BPL) and
  • Above poverty line (APL), with the issue price being different for each category.

However, this categorisation is not perfect and a number of deserving poor have been excluded from the BPL category. Moreover, some of the so called APL slip back to BPL, because of the failure of even one crop and it is administratively difficult to accommodate such shifts.

Suggestion for Future: Each district and block can be made self sufficient in foodgrain production if government provides proper agricultural infrastructure, credit linkages and also encourages the use of latest techniques. Instead of concentrating only on rice or wheat, the food crop with a better growth potential in that particular area must be encouraged. Creation of necessary infrastructure like irrigation facilities, availability of electricity etc. may also attract private investments in agriculture.

The focus on increasing foodgrain production which should be on a sustainable basis and also free trade in grains will create massive employment and reduce poverty in rural areas.

Shifting Agricultural Pattern:

There has been a gradual shift from cultivation of food crops to cultivation of fruits, vegetables, oil-seeds and industrial crops. This has led to the reduction in net sown area under cereals and pulses. With the growing population of India, the declining food production puts a big question mark over the country’s future food security. The competition for land between non-agricultural uses such as housing etc. and agriculture has resulted in reduction in the net sown area. The productivity of land has started showing a declining trend. Fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides, which once showed dramatic results, are now being held responsible for degrading the soils. Periodic scarcity of water has led to reduction in area under irrigation. Inefficient water management has led to water logging and salinity.

Impact of Globalisation on Agriculture:

Under globalisation, particularly after 1990, the farmers in India have been exposed to new challenges. Despite being an important producer of rice, cotton, rubber, tea, coffee, jute and spices our agricultural products are not able to compete with the developed countries because of the highly subsidised agriculture in those countries.

Change in cropping pattern for example from cereals to high-value crops will mean that India will have to import food. During 1960’s this would have been seen as a disaster. But if India imports cereals while exporting high-value commodities, it will be following successful economies like Italy, Israel and Chile.

These countries exports farm products (fruits, olives, speciality seeds and wine) and import cereals.

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