Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

From Self-Sufficiency to Dependence on Imported Food-Grain in Leh District (Ladakh, Indian Trans-Himalaya)

Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

From Self-Sufficiency to Dependence on Imported Food-Grain in Leh District (Ladakh, Indian Trans-Himalaya)

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

During the period of 2006-08, about 839,4 million of undernourished people lived in developing countries and the majority of them, 567,8 millions, resided in Asia (FAO 2011). According to the "Report on the state of food insecurity in rural India" (WFP & MSSRF 2008), the nation is home to more than 230 million undernourishedpeople (21% of the country population). In 1951/521, the grain production, mostly in the Gangetic plains, was around 52 million tons, and in 2001/02 production increased up to 212 million tons (Narwal et al. 2005), making India self-sufficient in food grain production, but self-sufficiency in production does not mean a food secure country for everybody. In fact, even if the demand for more and nutritious food has raised, as a consequence of the increasing of the per capita income (7.2% during 2007/08), it is relates only to the urban poor and middle-class, leaving the rural poor, who did not experience such a rapid growth of income, food insecure (DTE 2008); thus, food imbalance in India seems to be not in food production but in food economy. In the future, the projected demand in 2020 from the growing population will be about 307 million tons and the gap will be met only by putting more land under cultivation in addition to the actual 140 million hectares (DTE 2008) or by import.

The rural areas of Jammu & Kashmir State, to which Ladakh and Leh Districts belong, has recorded an Index of food insecurity below 0.5 (level of insecurity range from 0 to 1; a higher index value represents a higher level of food insecurity), showing a better performance, together with only three other states of the Indian Union, than the rest of the nation (WFP & MSSRF 2008). In Ladakh the traditional diet of barley and wheat has been the base of the nutritional system for centuries. Other items, non locally producible, like spices, sugar, tea and rice (latter, particularly expensive, was consumed only during special occasions), were imported trading goods from Tibet, central Asia, and Indian plain in caravans (Rizvi 1999). The mix of these diet components varied depending on the population considered, be it urban or rural, nomadic or sedentary, and budget. Moreover, the traditional farming system has been socio-eco- compatible, by recycling energy and matter using manure as fertilizer (Pelliciardi 2012a), by adopting suitable social mores, like fraternal polyandry, primogeniture inheritance, and monastic life for at least one family member (Rizvi 1983), to produce enough food- grain (self-sufficiency) in balance with the population size. Unlike the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, until the introduction of maize in the 17th century and potato in the 18th century to complement rice, Ladakh does not seem to have suffered any serious famine (Dollfus et al. 2009). In the past, cereals surplus in Leh District was accumulated, as a buffer stock, in a granaries system inside the most influential monasteries (Handa 2004) and, in Leh town, inside the Basti Haveli government building (Kaul 1998).

After the Srinagar-Leh road was opened in 1962, the process of modernization became faster, and new lifestyles, practices and social mores have permeated the Ladakhi community against a backdrop of secular indigenous traditions and culture (Norbert- Hodge 1991). Since the Food & Supplies Department (later renamed Consumer Affair Department) came into existence in the 60s, and the Food-Grain Program was initiated, thousands quintals of rice and wheat flour (in addition to sugar and kerosene), produced in the plains of India, were imported every year in Leh District. These commodities are distributed, at subsidized prices or in some cases even free of charge, to the local population via the Public Distribution System (PDS). Thus, the traditional subsistence agrarian economy has been progressively and indirectly influenced by the emergence of changes in socio-economic dynamics with new off-farm income opportunities, especially in the urbanised area - e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.