Food Security and National Food Security Act ( NFSA 2013 )

Food Security is a flexible concept and there has been continuous evolution in the definition of food security but according to the widely accepted view, Food Security means making food available at affordable prices at all times, to all, without any disruptions.

Status of Food Security for India

  • According to the latest Global Hunger Report (2017), India ranks at the 100th position even below North Korea and Bangladesh. Hunger and starvation still persist in India despite impressive GDP growth and handsome agricultural production.
  • Calorie and Protein intake of most no. of people especially in rural areas is less than the normal standards. According to a consumer survey, conducted by the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB), 80% of the Indian diets are protein deficient.
  • Despite the gradual increase in the consumption of protein, the prevalence of undernutrition declined marginally from 1990 to 2016 and food insecurity continues to be one of the most pressing challenges before India.
  • Agricultural productivity- In India agriculture productivity which depends on several factors like availability and quality of agricultural inputs such as land, water, seeds and fertilizers, access to agricultural credit, crop insurance, storage and marketing infrastructure etc, is extremely low and according to World Bank figures, cereal yield in India is estimated to be 2,992 kg per hectare as against 5,401.4 and 7,318.4 kg per hectare in East Asia and Pacific, North America respectively.
  • Unviable nature of Agriculture - In India about 1/3rd of the farmer's don t like farming because it is not a profitable activity and 40% are willing to give up farming if they could find a better source of livelihood. Despite this, agriculture employs about 49% of the labour force in India.

Why Nutritional Security is important?

  • The protein requirement of an average adult per day is 1 gram per kg of the body weight and intake less than this will lead to difficulty in performing simple tasks and processing sensory signals by the brain, one of the key symptoms of lack of proteins is weakness and fatigue.

What needs to be done to ensure food security?

  • Food Production to be increased with the help of following measures
    • The yield of the crops should be increased with the help of high yielding varieties and GM Crops.
    • More area should be brought under pulses and coarse cereals to ensure nutritional security.
    • Innovative technologies should be used in Agriculture.
  • Supply chain to be improved -There is the requirement of better storage, transportation, proper retailing and integrating the segmented agriculture markets into a national agriculture market.
  • Water Productivity - to be enhanced through measures like Drip and Sprinkler irrigation, Watershed Development, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana etc.
  • Wastage of food should be reduced.

Schemes to ensure food security in India

  • Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) It covers all Children under six, pregnant and lactating mothers.
  • Annapurna -10 kgs of free food grain for destitute poor.
  • Food subsidy programmes - Targeted Public Distribution System, NFSA (National Food Security Act).
  • Mid-Day Meal Schemes (MDMS).
  • Employment Programmes - Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (100 days of employment at minimum wages) to ensure food security.
  • Amma canteen - Government of Tamil Nadu launched Amma Unavagam (Mother s Canteen).

National Food Security Act 2013

It is India's most ambitious and world's largest social welfare programme which provides a legal right to about 2/3rd of the Indian people for subsidised food grains. Under this scheme, the identification of beneficiaries will be done by the state governments either through their own mechanism or with the help of SECC (Socio-Economic Caste Census Data) Data 2011.

Provisions of the Act

  • The scheme will provide with uniform entitlement of 5 kg foodgrains per month at highly subsidised prices of Rs.3, Rs. 2 and Rs. 1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains, respectively to around 75 per cent rural and 50 per cent urban population of India.
  • Eldest woman of eighteen years of age or above will be head of the household for issue of ration card, and if not available, the eldest male member is to be the head of the household.
  • It provisions for a special focus on nutritional support to women and children
    • Pregnant women and lactating mothers, besides being entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional norms will also receive maternity benefit of at least of Rs. 6,000.
    • Children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to take home ration or hot cooked food as per prescribed nutritional norms.
  • For the grievance redressal, there will be district level redressal mechanism with the designated officers.
  • Act also contains provisions for reforms in PDS through:
    • Doorstep delivery of foodgrains,
    • Application of information and communication technology (ICT) including end-to-end computerisation,
    • Leveraging Aadhaar for identification of beneficiaries,
    • Diversification of commodities under TPDS
  • The central government will provide funds to states/UTs in case of short supply of food grains from the central pool.
  • In case of non-supply of foodgrains or meals to entitled persons, the concerned state/UT governments will be required to provide such food security allowance as may be prescribed by the central government to the beneficiaries.

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