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Food Security in India

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  • Last Updated : 29 Nov, 2022
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According to the Economic Survey (2018-19), India must take major steps to enhance its food security because of supply limits, water scarcity, limited landholdings, low per capita GDP, and insufficient irrigation. Food security, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), occurs when all people have physical and economic access to adequate, safe, and nutritious food to suit their dietary needs and food choices for an active and healthy life at all times. The components of food security are outlined below in order of importance and close relationship. 

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. Dimensions of food security are,

  • Availability of Food: It means the production and availability of food within the country as food imports and last year’s stock stored in government granaries.
  • Accessibility of Food: It means every individual should be accessible to food or food should be within reach of every person.
  • Affordability of Food: It implies that every individual should be capable of earning or have such amount of money to buy sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet one dietary needs.

Therefore, food security is ensured in a country only if,

  • Food is available in enough quantity for all the people.
  • Every individual is capable of buying food.
  • There will be no barrier for anyone in accessing food.

Food Security in India

  1. Concerns about food security may be traced back to the Bengal Famine, which occurred during British colonial control in 1943 and killed between 2 million and 3 million people.
  2. Since independence, India has been vulnerable to various food security shocks, including initial haste to industrialize while disregarding agriculture, two consecutive droughts in the mid-1960s, and reliance on US food aid.
  3. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the country had a Green Revolution, which enabled it to overcome productivity stagnation and greatly increase food grain output.
  4. Despite its success, the Green Revolution has been criticized for focusing on only two kinds of cereal: wheat and rice; being limited to a few resource-rich regions in the northwestern and southern parts of the country that benefited mostly wealthy farmers; and putting undue stress on the ecology of these regions, particularly soil and water.
  5. The White Revolution, which began in the 1970s and 1980s with Operation Flood, followed the Green Revolution.
  6. India has become the world’s largest producer of milk because of this national project, which has transformed liquid milk production and marketing. 
  7. Hybrid maize for poultry and industrial use, as well as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton, have made significant progress in recent years, resulting in significant cotton exports, making India the second biggest exporter of cotton in 2007–2008. 

Why Food Security is Needed in India?

  • India now has the world’s biggest population of malnourished people, at roughly 195 million.
  • In India, about 47 million children, or 4 out of 10 youngsters, do not reach their full human potential due to chronic malnutrition or stunting. India’s agricultural production is quite poor.
  • According to World Bank estimates, India’s cereal production is 2,992 kg per hectare, compared to 7,318.4 kg per hectare in North America.
  • The food basket is migrating away from grains and toward high-value agricultural commodities such as fish, eggs, milk, and meat.
  • This tendency will continue as earnings rise, and India’s indirect need for food from feed will swiftly increase. 
  • According to the FAO’s “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2018” report, India’s population is undernourished by 14.8 percent. In addition, 51.4 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 are anemic.
  • According to the research, 38.4% of children under the age of five in India are stunted (their height is too short for their age), while 21% are wasting (their weight is too low for their height). The Global Food Security Index (GFSI) ranks India 76th out of 113 nations in 2018, based on four criteria: cost, availability, quality, and safety.
  • India was placed 103rd out of 119 qualified nations in the 2018 Global Hunger Index. 

Challenges to Food Security

  • Climate Change: Farming is becoming more difficult due to rising temperatures and unreliable rainfall. Climate change affects not just crops, but also cattle, forests, fisheries, and aquaculture, and can have serious social and economic implications, such as lower incomes, destroyed livelihoods, trade disruptions, and negative health effects.
  • Access to isolated regions is limited: Tribal tribes have experienced substantial economic backwardness as a result of living in remote, harsh terrains and practicing subsistence farming.
  • Increasing rural-to-urban migration, as well as a significant informal sector, has resulted in the unplanned rise of slums that lack basic health and hygiene amenities, inadequate housing, and increased food insecurity.
  • Overcrowding, poverty, a lack of education, and gender inequality are all factors. Food distribution through public distribution channels is insufficient (PDS i.e. Public Distribution System). 
  • Non-ownership of a below-poverty line: (BPL) status excludes deserving beneficiaries of the subsidy, as the threshold for determining a household’s BPL status is arbitrary and varies from state to state.
  • Bio-fuels: As the bio-fuel industry has grown, the amount of land utilized to grow food crops has decreased.
  • Food may be used as a weapon in conflict, with foes cutting off the food supply to gain ground. Crops might be damaged as well during a fight.
  • Unmonitored nutrition programs: Although there are a lot of nutrition-related programs planned in the country, they are not being adequately executed. 

Causes of Food Insecurity in India

There are many causes of food insecurity in India. One cause is the high level of poverty in the country. Over half of the population lives below the poverty line, and many of these people do not have enough money to buy food. Another cause of food insecurity in India is the lack of infrastructure. The country does not have a good transportation system, and this makes it difficult to get food to people who live in remote areas. There are also problems with the storage and distribution of food, which can lead to wastage and hunger. The Indian government has been working to improve food security in the country, but there is still a long way to go. Millions of people remain hungry, and the problem is likely to continue unless major changes are made.

The Impact of food Insecurity in India

The scale of food insecurity in India is staggering. Over 200 million people are currently undernourished, and the majority of those affected are women and children. Food insecurity not only takes a toll on health but also on education and economic productivity. India has made progress in reducing hunger and malnutrition, but much more needs to be done. The government has taken some steps to improve food security, such as increasing agricultural production and improving access to food for the poorest households. However, these efforts need to be intensified and better targeted to make a real dent in the problem.

The impact of food insecurity on health is well documented. Malnutrition is a major cause of child mortality in India, and it contributes to a host of other health problems. Undernutrition weakens the immune system, making people more susceptible to disease. It also leads to stunted growth and development, both physical and cognitive. Food insecurity also adversely affects educational attainment. Children who are malnourished are more likely to drop out of school or perform poorly in exams. In addition, hunger can lead to absenteeism as families struggle to find enough food to eat each day. Finally, food insecurity reduces economic productivity. Poor nutrition leads to lower worker productivity, which in turn impacts GDP growth. In addition, the burden of disease caused by malnutrition imposes significant costs on the healthcare system and the economy more broadly. Clearly, food insecurity has far-reaching consequences for individuals, families, communities

How to solve Problem of food Insecurity in India

In India, almost 15% of the population is undernourished, and more than 20% of children are stunted. Food insecurity is a serious problem in India, but there are ways to solve it. One way to solve the problem of food insecurity in India is by increasing agricultural production. This can be done by investing in better seeds and irrigation systems, and by providing farmers with access to credit and extension services. Another way to improve food security in India is by reducing post-harvest losses. This can be done by improving storage facilities and infrastructure, and by developing better transportation networks. Lastly, food security in India can be improved by increasing access to nutritious foods. This can be done by fortifying staple foods, and by creating innovative food distribution systems that reach remote areas. With proper planning and implementation, the problem of food insecurity in India can be solved. By taking these steps, we can ensure that all Indians have access to adequate nutrition and lead healthy lives.

Recent Initiatives and Programs Introduced by Government for Food Security

  • National Food Security Mission.
  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
  • Integrated Schemes on Oilseeds, Pulses, Palm oil, and Maize (ISOPOM).
  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
  • National Food Security Act (NFSA).

Sample Questions

Question 1: Why do people suffer from Chronic Hunger?


People suffer because of the following reasons,

  • Seasonal production of food grains.
  • Decline in low income.
  • Unavailability of Food.
  • Wrong policies of the government.

Question 2: Define fair-price shops and cooperative societies.


Government has opened up ration shops to provide food grains to the poorer strata of the society at price lower than the market hence these shops are called as Fair price shop.

The societies which are run by local people with the motive to provide basic necessities of life to the poor people such as food-grains, milk, vegetables etc at a reasonable price. These people are democratically elected by the people. These societies are termed as cooperative society.

Question 3: What are the two functions of the food corporation of India?


The functions of FCI are,

  • For Food security system Food corporation is most important component in India.
  • They purchase food grains from the farmers where there is surplus production  in states.

Question 4: Mention any two major objectives of Academy Development Science (ADS)?


The main objective of Academy Development Science (ADS) are,

  1. They organized training and capacity building programme on food security for NGOs for setting up grain banks in different region.
  2. Their main effort is to setup grains banks to influence the governments policy on food security are thus paying rich dividends .

Question 5: How does the public distribution system ensure food security in India?


  • By focusing on subsidized distribution of the basic commodities to poor households through the fair price shops .
  • By ensuring to provide stipulated quantity of food to every holder of ration card  .

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