Food security in India: Performance, challenges and policies

Type Working Paper - Oxfam India working papers series
Title Food security in India: Performance, challenges and policies
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
URL security in india.pdf
This paper examines performance, challenges, and policies in food security in terms of availability, access, and absorption or nutrition. Speci? cally, the paper addresses the following questions:

(i) What is the progress in supply side of food in terms of availability at the national level?

(ii) How far has India progressed in attaining access to food and nutrition requirements at the household level?

(iii) What are the programmes and policies that India has followed in realizing food and nutrition security?

(iv) What should be done to realize food and nutrition security for all citizens of India?

Food availability is a necessary condition for food security. India is more or less self suf?cient in cereals but de?cit in pulses and oilseeds. Due to changes in consumption patterns, demand for fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, poultry, and ?sheries has been increasing. There is need to increase crop diversi?cation and improve allied activities. It may be noted that the slowdown in agriculture growth could be attributed to structural factors on the supply side, such as public investment, credit, technology, land and water management, etc., rather than globalization and trade reforms per se. Access to food can be increased through employment due to growth in labour intensive sectors and/or through social protection programmes. The malnutrition problem is much broader than that of access to food. The South Asian Enigma (levels of malnutrition in Asia are higher than in Africa) is well known. India has malnutrition levels almost the levels double those of many countries in Africa. This problem needs a multi-disciplinary approach covering diet diversi?cation including micronutrients, women’s empowerment, education, health, safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene. India has government programmes such as TPDS including AAY, nutrition programmes like mid-day meals, and ICDS to improve food and nutrition security. NREGS and self employment programmes can also increase access to food and nutrition. Social protection programmes in India helped in improving incomes and providing protection from shocks for the population, particularly the poor. However, there are a number of gaps and inef?ciencies in social protection programmes. Under national food security law, the government wants to provide rice and wheat to the poorest of poor at Rs. 3 per kilogram. This is too narrow an approach for implementation of the Right to Food. The Right to Food campaign speci?es several other things to be included, apart from universal PDS, under the Food Entitlements Act.

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