Wednesday, July 10, 2013

India needs nutritionally enriched Food security

On July 5th the Food security ordinance was approved by the President of India, the ordinance will guarantee 5 kg of rice or wheat or millets  a month to poor at a discounted rate of Rs. 3, Rs. 2 and Re. 1 respectively.  Food security means ....not only  providing  5 kilograms of subsidized food grains but  also that should ensure the nutrition security. I don't  think  that 5 kgs of food grains is not enough to feed  one person per month. Average consumption per year for each person is around 178 kgs. ( 15 kgs per head/monthly) and average family size in India is  4.8 persons,  so each family needs at least  65-70 kgs of grains per month.  Food habits have been changing gradually, people are slowly shifting from grains to more protein and nutritional based foods. Edible oil, pulses  are good source of nutritional values , each person needs minimum 1kg of edible oil and the same way 1kg of pulses per month, though which  is less than nutritionist 's recommendations  i.e. 16kgs of edible oil and 20kgs of pulses per capita. I don't know, how come this bill is going to ensure the food security by just giving  5 kgs of grains and the same way how it's going to reduce the malnutrition by just giving grains without any nutritional food items.

India ranked 65 among the 79 countries which are listed in global hunger index. ( High number means most vulnerable) . As we know  that our working class poor people are still in calorie deficient and they definitely need the nutrients to get strength, endurance and productivity at their workplace. The UPA-2 government is trying to mesmerize the people that it is doing a big favor to below poverty line by the Food Security Act. The edible oil and pulses are essential for human beings to sustain proteins, vitamins and minerals. The market prices of edible oil and pulses are very high and have been increasing , the government  doesn't have any control  over the prices and price mechanism . The nutritional food items  must be reasonably priced to consumers, then only the people will get comprehensive food security otherwise it 's  going to be a futile exercise.

The Public Distribution Systems is not functioning efficiently,  it’s all corrupted and controlled by the second fiddles of local MLAs. Everybody  knows that the PDS food ration is going to the black markets and  also too many   fake ration cards. The PDS system shall be pruned to remove the bottlenecks  in supply chain of food distribution especially  for  this upcoming Food Security program. The UPA's National Food Security bill doesn't have any time bound or any target orientation.  There is no clarity in elimination of malnutrition and how many people will be moved out of hunger in next 5 years or next 10 years and so on. The Bill is just targeted for 2014 elections for their electoral prospects and it is political hoax .

The government must focus on 4 Ps i.e. Production, Procuring, Preserving and Proper distribution of food grains. Food security act will not only serving the poor but also encourages the production of food grains which is directly  benefit to the farmers since the consumption will be more. At the same time, the farmers should not be burdened  with the cost of subsidizing the supply. India needs to be self sufficient in food grain production to meet this new demand, so the agriculture should  have high priority in National Food Security program.