Policy on Food Security in India Impact of Government Food

By Kalabarani, S. P.; Birundha, V. Dhulasi | Political Economy Journal of India, July-December 2012 | Go to article overview
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Policy on Food Security in India Impact of Government Food

Kalabarani, S. P., Birundha, V. Dhulasi, Political Economy Journal of India


World's Development Report (1986) defined food security as "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life." Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO, 1983) defined food security as "ensuring that all people at all times have both physical and economic access to basic food they need."

From these definitions, the following points emerge:

* Food security involves the adequate physical availability of food to the entire population in the country.

* People have enough purchasing power so that they can acquire the food they need.

* For healthy life, the food available should be adequate in quality as well as quantity to meet nutritional requirement.

The main components of the food security system in India are promoting domestic production to meet the demands of the growing population as also to reduce under-nutrition among quite a large section of the population; providing minimum support prices for procurement and storage of food items operating public distribution system; and maintaining buffer stocks so as to take care of natural calamities resulting in temporary shortage of food, and to act as a countervailing mechanism against traders and businessmen who try to push up prices, especially during periods of shortages of food.

A nation may acquire self-sufficiency in food at a point of time, but the concept of food security necessities that, timely, reliable and nutritionally adequate supply of food should be available on a long terms basis. This implies that a nation has to ensure the growth rate in food supply so that it takes care of the increase in population as also the increase in demand resulting from increase in the income of the people.

From this point of view, the four stages of food security may be visualized for a developing country like India are (i) as Stage one is the most basic need from the point of view of human survival is to make an adequate quantity of cereals available to all, (ii) stage two as the adequate availability of cereals and pulses; (iii) stage three includes cereals, pulses, milk and milk products, and (iv) stage four includes cereals, pluses, milk and milk products, vegetables and fruits, fish, eggs and meat.

Staatz ((1990) defined food security as the ability to assure, on a long-term basis, that the food system provides the total population access to a timely, reliable and nutritionally adequate supply of food. Thus defined, food security has four essential components. (i) food availability, (ii) food accessibility, (iii) food utilization, and (iv) food security. Food availability concerns with the availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate qualities, supplied through domestic production or imports.

Food accessibility requires adequate resources. These resources are primarily monetary, but may also include traditional rights, e.g., to a share in common resources. The access to food, therefore, depends on factors like household incomes and individual wages, food prices, consumer credit, etc. Food utilization through adequate diet, water, sanitation and health care bring forth the importance of non-food inputs in food security.

Food security means minimizing the probability that in difficult times, food consumption might fall below requirements." Food security implies access by all people at all times to sufficient quantities of food to lead an active and healthy life". Srinivasan (2007) noted that this requires not just adequate supply of food at the aggregate level but also enough purchasing capacity with the individual household to demand adequate levels of food. Broadly speaking, there are three major aspects of our food problem:

(i) Quantitative Aspect,

(ii) Qualitative Aspect, and

(iii) Economic Aspect of lack of purchasing power with the People.

The quantitative aspect is related with the supply of food grains.

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