Let us learn about food security in India Since the advent of the Green revolution in the early-.70s, the country has avoided famine even during adverse weather conditions. India has become self-sufficient in foodgrains during the last thirty years because of a variety of crops grown all over the country.
The availability of foodgrains (even in adverse weather conditions or otherwise) at the country level has further been ensured with a carefully designed food security system by the government. If you carefully look at the graph, you can see that the country’s foodgrain production has risen from 1970-71 from 100 million tones to almost 200 million tones mark in the year 2000-2001
This system has two components:
(a) Buffer stock
(b) Public Distribution System
What is Buffer stock?
Buffer Stock is the stock of foodgrains, namely wheat and rice procured by the government through the Food Corporation of India (FCI). The FCI purchases wheat and rice from the farmers in states where there is surplus production. The farmers are paid a pre-announced price for their crops.
This price is called Minimum Support Price. The MSP is declared by the government every year before the sowing season to provide incentives to the farmers for raising the production of these crops.
The purchased food grains are stored in granaries. Do you know why this buffer stock is created by the government? This is done to distribute foodgrains in the deficit areas and among the poorer strata of society at a price lower than the market price also known as Issue Price. This also helps resolve the problem of shortage of food during adverse weather conditions or during periods of calamity.
What is the Public Distribution System?
The food procured by the FCI is distributed through government-regulated ration shops among the poorer section of the society. This is called the public distribution system (PDS). Ration shops are now present in most localities, villages, towns, and cities.
There are about 4.6 lakh ration shops all over the country. Ration shops also known as Fair Price Shops keep stock of foodgrains, sugar, kerosene oil for cooking.
These items are sold to people at a price lower than the market price. Any family with a ration card* can buy a stipulated amount of these items (e.g. 35 kg of grains, 5 liters of kerosene, 5 kgs of sugar, etc.) every month from the nearby ration shop. The introduction of Rationing in India dates back to the 1940s against the backdrop of the Bengal famine.
The rationing system was revived in the wake of an acute food shortage during the 1960s, prior to the Green Revolution. In the wake of the high incidence of poverty levels, as reported by the NSSO in the mid-1970s, three important food intervention programs were introduced:
Public Distribution System (PDS) for food grains (in existence earlier but strengthened thereafter); Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) (introduced in 1975 on an experimental basis) and Food-for-Work (FFW) (introduced in 1977.78). Over the years, several new programs have been launched and some have been restructured with the growing experience of administering the programs.
At present, there are several Poverty Alleviation Programmes (PAPs), mostly in rural areas, which have an explicit food component also. While some of the programs such as PDS, mid-day meals, etc. are exclusively food security programs, most of the PAPs also enhance food security. Employment programs greatly contribute to food security in India by increasing the income of the poor.