- National Food Security Mission (NFSM) was launched in 2007-08
- to increase the production of rice, wheat and pulses through
- (i) area expansion and productivity enhancement,
- (ii) restoring soil fertility and productivity,
- (iii) Creating employment opportunities and
- (iv) enhancing farm level economy. Coarse cereals were also included in the Mission from 2014-15 under NFSM.
- The interventions covered under NFSM include cluster demonstrations on improved package of practices, demonstrations on cropping system, Seed distribution of high yielding varieties, farm machineries/resources conservation machineries/tools, efficient water application tools, plant protection measures, nutrient management/soil ameliorants, cropping system based trainings to the farmers etc.
- NFSM continued during 12th Five Year Plan with the target of additional production of 25 million tonnes of food grains.
- Beyond the 12th Plan, the mission is being continued with new additional target of 13 million tonnes of food grains from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
- The country achieved bumper production of foodgrains during 2017-18 at 285.01 million tonnes.
- As per 4th Advance Estimates total foodgrains production achieved during 2018-19 is 284.95 million tonnes.
- NFSM is being implemented in identified districts of 29 states in the country.
- The supplementary nutrition programmes envisaged under the National Food Security Act for pregnant women and lactating mothers and children upto the age of 14 years are operating smoothly and no proposal to reassess these programmes is under consideration of the Government.
National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA)
- Government enacted that National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) in July 2013
- with an intended coverage of upto 75% of rural population and upto 50% of urban population for receiving highly subsidized food grains under Targeted Public Distribution System.
- One of the guiding principles of the Act is its life cycle approach wherein special provisions for supplementary nutrition have been made for pregnant women and lactating mothers and children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years.
- Every pregnant woman and lactating mother is entitled to meal, free of charge, during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, through the local anganwadi, so as to meet the specified nutritional standards and also maternity benefit of not less than rupees six thousand to partly compensate for the wage loss during the period of pregnancy and also to supplement nutrition.
- Every child in the age group of six months to six years, is entitled to age appropriate meal, free of charge, through the local anganwadi so as to meet the specified nutritional standards
- In the case of children, up to class VIII or within the age group of six to fourteen years, whichever is applicable, one mid-day meal, free of charge is provided every day except on school holidays, in all schools run by local bodies, Government and Government aided schools, so as to meet the specified nutritional standards.
- State Government through the local anganwadi, also identify and provide meals, free of charge, to children who suffer from malnutrition, so as to meet the specified nutritional standards.
Significance of Food Security
The concerns regarding food security in India can be traced back to the experience of the Bengal Famine in 1943 during the British Colonial Rule. Food security is of utmost importance to a nation as it will also have a positive influence on the other aspects determining the growth of a nation:
- It will boost the agricultural sector.
- It will also aid the government to regulate food prices.
- A boost in the agricultural sector would result in more job opportunities, as agriculture is a labor-intensive sector. This would enhance economic growth and result in the reduction of poverty.
- Access to nutritious food would enhance the overall health of the public.
- Food security is also important for global security and stability of the nation.
Significance of the National Food Security Act
The concept of food security at a global level indicates access to basic, nutritious food by all people, at all times. It is characterized by availability, access, utilization, and stability of food.
- There is no explicit provision in the Indian Constitution for the right to food.
- Until the enactment of the NFSA, the fundamental right to life under Article 21 was interpreted to include the right to live with human dignity, which may include the right to food and other basic necessities.
Obligations under NFSA
The NFSA states in detail the obligations of the Central government, the state government, and the local authorities.
Obligations of the Central Government:
- The Central Government shall allocate the required food grains from the central pool to the State Governments under the TPDS.
- The Government would have to allocate the resources keeping in mind the number of persons in the eligible households.
- The Central Government would also provide for the transportation of food grains as per the allocation to the State Governments.
- Assist the State Governments in meeting the expenditures incurred by the State Government towards intra-state movement, handling of the food grains, and the FPS margins.
- Create and maintain storage facilities at various levels.
Obligations of the State Governments:
- The State Government shall be responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the various schemes.
- Organize intra-state allocations to deliver the allocated food grains to the beneficiaries.
- Determine the eligible households and the beneficiaries and ensure that they can avail of the benefits of the schemes.
- Create and maintain scientific storage facilities at the district and block levels to store the allocated food grains.
- Establish institutionalized licensing arrangements for the FPS under the Public Distribution System (Control) Order, 2001.
Obligations of the local authorities:
- They shall be responsible for the effective implementation of the Act.
- They may be assigned additional responsibilities by the State Government for the implementation of the TPDS.
- The local authorities would be responsible for discharging the responsibilities allotted to them by the State Governments.
Challenges to Food Security
There are a plethora of challenges to battle food security, a few of them are:
- Climate Change: the increase in the global temperatures and the capricious rainfall makes farming difficult. A change in the temperatures not only impacts the crops but the other species which are reared for food such as fisheries, livestock, etc.
- Lack of Access: there is a lack of access to remote areas. The tribals and other communities living in remote areas do not get the opportunity to avail of the benefits of the schemes implemented for food security due to lack of access.
- Over-population: A substantial increase in the population when not accompanied by an increase in agricultural production results in a shortage of food.
- Non-food crops: crops grown for commercial purposes such as biofuels and dyes have reduced the area under cultivation for crops.
- Migration from Rural-Urban cities: This causes a problem as it leads to a lot of confusion as to which PDS shop to buy the subsidies from.
The effective implementation of the NFSA remains with the states/UTs and as governance differs from state to state, the effectiveness of the implementation would also differ in each state.
- Lack of Transparency: According to a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit conducted in 2016, the wrong people were benefiting from the NFSA.
- It accuses many states of implementing the NFSA despite owning the information that their beneficiaries list is spurious.
- Leakages in PDS: a leakage indicates that the food grains do not reach the intended beneficiaries. The leakages may be of three types:
- pilferage during transportation of food grains
- diversion at fair price shops to non-beneficiaries and,
- exclusion of entitled beneficiaries from the list.
- Storage: According to the CAG audit, the available storage space was inadequate for the allocated quantity of food grains.
- Quality of food grains: people often complain that the quality of the food grains is not up to the mark and that the grains sometimes have to be mixed with other grains to be edible. Complaints stating that the grains also consist of non-food particles such as pebbles have also been registered.
Ways to increase the effectiveness of NFSA
The Government should provide strategies for better food storage, and adopt an integrated policy framework to facilitate agriculture productivity.
- The usage of Information Technology throughout the process from acquisition of the food grains till distribution will aid in enhancing the effectiveness of the process.
- Information regarding the entire process from the quality of food grains to the storage facilities where the grains were stored, should be available to the beneficiaries.
- A one ration card system (for more on this, check PIB dated Aug 9, 2019) would be effective in eliminating the confusion, especially for the migrants, as this would provide the beneficiaries the freedom to choose from the PDS shop of their choice.
- Expand the coverage of Integrated Management of PDS (IMPDS) to all the states.