Draft Food Security Bill: Urban Food Insecurity, Strategies for Farm Growth

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Draft Food Security Bill

Urban Food Insecurity

  • A large segment of urban working population is mostly without productive asset and relies primarily on wage or marginal self-employment to survive. They face food insecurity in terms of access to food.

  • There has been a proliferation of slums lacking basic amenities. Lack of safe drinking water and sanitation leads to poor biological utilization of food and repeated episodes of morbidity.

  • <Refer: Report on the State of Food Insecurity in Urban India, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, 2010>

What the Government Can Do?

  • Expansion of productive and remunerative employment by assistance to small and tiny enterprises in the urban economy

  • Access to safe drinking water and toilets

  • Programmes like JNNURM should also focus on the needs of slums in all cities and address the needs of the poor

  • Address needs of vulnerable sections such as street children, orphans, HIV-AIDS patients through initiatives such as community kitchens.

  • Universal urban PDS

  • In June 2010, the SC directed the government to distribute to the poor the rotting food in the FCI godowns.

The Issue Here Is

  • Tonnes of food grains every year are eaten up by rodents or gets perished in rains due to inadequate storage facilities.

  • The PM has, however, said that SC should not intervene in policy matters and that it is not possible for the government to distribute food grains free of cost.

MS Swaminathan

  • Hunger in India is due to poverty and not due to lack of food grains

  • We have many years before we achieve the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme hunger and poverty

  • Food prices are going up

Suggestions

  • Distribute the grain for which there is no safe storage

  • Food grains exposed to rains might get rotten. Such rotten food grains should not be distributed to the poor

  • Food losses due to poor storage should be measured both in quantitative and qualitative terms. <Qualitative: Are they fit for human consumption>

  • Procurement at remunerative prices is the key in keeping up farmers’ interest in farming.

Strategies for Farm Growth

  • Loans are not easily available. It is advisable to waive loans of farmers with farm size up to four hectares in non-irrigated areas.

  • The government should arrange to supply quality seeds and seedlings of high yielding varieties.

  • About 65 percent of the cultivable land area in India is in rain-fed area and hence dependent on the vagaries of nature. It is essential to protect the farmers against losses through crop insurance schemes.

  • Crops are lost during transit. It is essential to build proper storage capacity.

  • Provide adequate transport to transport produce from fields to marketing centres.

  • Support prices should be announced ahead of the sowing season.

  • Eliminate middlemen. Ensure direct procurement under PDS.

  • In order to fulfil the need of fuel in every village, energy plantation should be undertaken.

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