Food security means availability, accessibility and affordability of food to all people at all times. The poor households are more vulnerable to food insecurity whenever there is a problem of production or distribution of food crops. Food security depends on the Public Distribution System (PDS) and government vigilance and action at times, when this security is threatened.
What is food security?
Food is as essential for living as air is for breathing. But food security means something more than getting two square meals. Food security has following dimensions
- Availability of food production within the country, food imports and the previous years stock stored in government granaries.
- Accessibility means food is within reach of every person.
- Affordability implies that an individual has enough money to buy sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet one’s dietary needs.
Thus, food security is ensured in a country only if
- enough food is available for all the persons.
- all persons have the capacity to buy food of acceptable quality and
- there is no barrier on access to food.
Why food security?
The poorest section of the society might be food insecure most of the times while persons above the poverty line might also be food insecure when the country faces a national disaster/calamity like earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami, widespread failure of crops causing famine, etc.
How is food security affected during a calamity?
Due to a natural calamity, say drought, the total production of foodgrains decreases. It creates a shortage of food in the affected areas. Due to a shortage of food, the prices go up. At the high prices, some people cannot afford to buy food. If such calamity happens in a very wide area or is stretched over a longer time period, it may cause a situation of starvation. Massive starvation might take a turn to famine.
A Famine is characterized by widespread deaths due to starvation and epidemics caused by forced use of contaminated water or decaying food and loss of body resistance due to weakening from starvation.
The most devastating famine that occurred in India was the FAMINE OF BENGAL in 1943. This famine killed thirty lakh people in the province of Bengal.
Nothing like the Bengal Famine has happened in India again. But it is disturbing to note that even today, there are places like Kalahandi and Kashipur in Orissa where famine-like conditions have been existing for many years and where some starvation deaths have also been reported. Starvation deaths are also reported in the Baran district of Rajasthan, Palamau district of Jharkhand and many other remote areas during the recent years. Therefore, food security is needed in a country to share food at all times.
Who are food-insecure?
Although a large section of people suffers from food and nutrition insecurity in India, the worst affected groups are landless people with little or no land to depend upon, traditional artisans, providers of traditional services, petty self-employed workers and destitutes including beggars.
In the urban areas, the food insecure families are those whose working members are generally employed in ill-paid occupations and casual labour market. These workers are largely engaged in seasonal activities and are paid very low wages that just ensure bare survival.
Food Security in India
Visit some farms in a nearby village and collect the details of food crops cultivated by the farmers. 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.