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Food Security – Definition, Need and Food Insecurity

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  • Last Updated : 04 Jul, 2022
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Food is the topmost necessity of life as it is essential for living as air is for breathing. Food security has a different meaning as it is something more than getting two square meals. It means accessibility, availability, and affordability of food to all the people at all times whenever there is a shortage of food or crops then the poor household is the most vulnerable to food insecurity because it is dependent on the public distribution system.

What is Food Security?

Food security refers to the availability of food and people’s capacity to obtain it. Food security is described by the United Nation’s Committee on World Food Security as, 

Having physical, social, and economic access to adequate, safe, and nutritious food that fits their food choices and dietary needs for an active and healthy life at all times.

Another example is the availability of food regardless of social status, gender, or geographic location. Food security was defined at the 1974 World Food Conference with an emphasis on supply: “availability at all times of adequate, nourishing, diverse, balanced, and moderate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices.”

“Food security” is defined as “physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to fulfill their dietary needs and food choices for an active and healthy life at all times.”

Similarly, home food security is defined as having enough food for all members to live an active, healthy life at all times. People who are food secure do not have to worry about hunger or starvation.

Droughts, transportation disruptions, fuel shortages, economic instability, and conflicts are all risk factors that might interrupt or make important food supplies unavailable in the future. 

Need of Food Security

Food security is needed because the poor section of society is more insecure as compared to the person above the poverty line when the country faces national disasters or calamities like earthquakes, drought, flood, failure of crops, etc.

How calamity affects the Food security?

Due to drought total production of food grain decreases as it creates a shortage of food in affected areas as well as increase in the price and At the high price some people cannot afford the food . If such calamity happens for a long time or in a wide spread area then it can lead to starvation .

A massive starvation can cause FAMINE. Famine is defined by wide spread deaths due to starvation and Epidemics caused by forced use of contaminated water or decaying food and loss of body resistance due to weakening from starvation .The devastating famine occurred in India was the famine of Bengal in . in this famine thirty lakhs person  has lost their lives in the province of Bengal. In this famine agricultural laborers and other casual laborers were affected the most by rapid increase in price of rice and their numbers of death was high .

Like Bengal famine, it has never happened again in India but in some of the places, famines conditions have been existing as well as starvation death has also been reported for many years. Death due to starvation was also reported in the Baran district of Rajasthan, Palamu district of Jharkhand, and, many other remote areas during recent years. In the 1970s Food security was understood as the availability of basic foodstuffs at all the tie. Amartya sen gives a new dimension to food security as it emphasizes access to food through Entitlements i.e a combination of food one can produce and exchange in the market along with the state.

Accordingly, there is frequent change in the understanding of food security. The 1995 world food summit declared food security at the individual, household, regional, national, and global level exist for all the people have both the access physical and economic to meet their basic dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life at all time Later on they also came out with the conclusion that Poverty eradication is necessary to improve the access to food. 

Need of Food Security in India

Because of the following reason given below food security in India is needed:

  1. Overpopulation: As India’s population is continuously increasing at a rapid rate which has increased from 3.6 million tons in 1951 to about 41 million tons in 2015 this is one of the reasons that lead to the need for food security.
  2. Hoarding and Black marketing: This hoarding and black marketing activity have increased the inadequate supply of food because some traders hoard the food grains and create a shortage of food grains to push the prices high and to make an extra profit this leads to an artificial crisis of food shortage in the country.
  3. Corrupt administrative services: As in the country, the government has taken various measures like rationing, price control, zoning, etc to prevent the shortage of food or to an adequate supply of food but as the administrative machinery is totally corrupt, it hardly gives benefit to general masses of the country.
  4. Unequal production of food grains: Most of the production of food grains is only by some states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh. So sometimes it is very difficult to transfer food grains from one region to another.
  5. Poverty and Natural calamity: In general, there is usually poor people below the poverty line who are food insecure whereas other people are food insecure just at the time of natural calamity, As at the time of natural calamity there is a shortage of food which leads to rising in price and some people can’t afford it.

Food Insecurity

In India, there is a large section of people suffers from food and nutrition insecurity. People who suffered the worst are the ones having little or no land, traditional artisans, petty self-employed workers, and the destitute including beggars.

In the urban areas, food-insecure families are those who are generally employed in ill-paid or ill-treated occupations. workers who are largely engaged in seasonal activities and are paid very low wages are the ones who are food insecure.

The less ability to buy food also plays a role in food insecurity. People who are either poor land-based or very low land productivity are prone to food insecurity. People who migrate to other areas because of natural disasters in search of work are among the most food-insecure people. There is a large number of pregnant women and nursing mothers, children under the age of 5 years are the ones who have constituted an important segment of the food insecure population.

Another aspect of food insecurity is hunger and it is of two types chronic hunger and seasonal hunger.

  • Chronic hunger: It is a consequence of diets that is inadequate in terms of quantity or quality. people suffer from chronic hunger as they have very low incomes and are sometimes not able to get food for their survival.
  • Seasonal hunger: It is related to cycles of food growing and harvesting and this is basically found in rural areas because of the seasonal nature of agriculture

After Independence India has been constantly working at self-sufficiency in food grains.  Indian government and policymakers have adopted all policies to achieve self-sufficiency in food grains.  India adopted a new strategy in the field of agriculture, which resulted in the ‘Green Revolution.

Sample Questions

Question 1: What are the main functions of the Food Corporation of India (FCI)?


The main functions of FCI are,

  1. To encourage the purchase of wheat and rice from the farmers.
  2. For the declaration of MSP.
  3. Availability of seeds and other inputs to Farmers.

Question 2: What is public distribution system?


For the food security of people, government has opened more than 4.6 lakhs ration shops all over the country to provide food grains and essential goods to the poor section of the society at reasonable rates under the public distribution system .

Question 3: Define subsidy?


Subsidy is a payment that has been made by government to producer to supplement the market price of a commodity . Its a term to keep consumer prices low while maintaining a higher income for domestic producers .

Question 4: What is Issue Price?


Government provides food grains to the poorer strata of the society through the public distribution system at a very low price . this price is known as Issue price .

Question 5: What is food security and list some factors on which food security depends?


Availability, accessibility and affordability of food to all people at all time is termed as food security.

Factors on which food security depends are,

  • Buffer stock
  • Public Distribution system
  • Increase in Food production

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