THE OUTCYRING CONCERNS OF FOOD SECURITY

 

INTRODUCTION

Perceiving the word “globe a lisation” we understand only a few facets from the very superficial level- technology, political relations, economic interdependence. However a part not much pondered upon is food and its availability. Sustainable development has been a primary agenda to unite the globe to one unit. And it goes without saying food security is one of the most important deciding catalyst. According to international centre of trade and sustainable development, failed agriculture market regulation and lack of anti dumping mechanism cause much of world’s scarcity and malnutrition.

The process by which business develops international level or start operating at international level. A world wide movement towards economic, financial, trade and communication integration. Globalization implies to opening of local and national perspectives to a broader outloof of intercomnnected and interdependent world with free transfer of capital goods and services across national frontiers.[1]

‘The compression of the world and intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole’-    Roland Robertson[2]

‘All those process by which people of the world are incorporated into single world society’-

Martin Albrow[3]

Thus such a vast expanding concept has numerous dimensions. One  of which here is an humble attempt to explore to that of food security. This paper is divided into five parts. Part one consists of the concept of food security, part two is discusses about global food security and India. Part three is a elaboration of India’s position and the schemes applied. Fourth part is a brief about assam’s position and challenges in the field and last part with a few suggestions.

CONCEPTUAL  REVIEW

From the view of social sustainability the most consistent requirement would have to be health. Health of the indivisual, health of the community. Without a doubt we ought to conclude that health is parallel to nutrition or food.

By food security what is meant is the condition related to supply of goods and indivisual access to them. At the 1974 world food conference,-this term was explained emphasizing on the teminology supply

1996 world food summit states that food security exixts when all people at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food, to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life[4]

.The word „Food Security‟ itself has gone under severe transition so as to actual Food Security as well. Consider the definition of Food Security given by –

 

At the World Food Summit‟ 1974 food security is defined as, “Availability at all times of

adequate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food

consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices”.

 

In 1983, FAO – “Ensuring that all people at all times have both physical and economic access to

the basic food that they need.” World Bank in 1986 – “The access by all people at all times to

enough food for an active and healthy life.”

In 1996, World Food Summit redefined the definition of food security as, “food security exists

when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious

food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle”.

 

In 2002 again, FAO Expert Consultation on Food Security gave a working definition of food

security as, “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and

economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food

preferences for an active and healthy life.”

Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum (1) the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and (2) an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies). (USDA)

GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY

When the global food crisis first hit international headlines in 2008, international bureaucrats referred to the current problems in the world food situation as ―a silent tsunami‖, but the truth is that it was not a sudden and unexpected crisis: the signs have been around for some time now and it could easily have been seen to be coming. Even so, its impact has been powerful and already quite devastating, as food shortages and high prices of food have adversely affected billions of people, especially the poor in the developing world

The food and agriculture organization of united nations or (FAO), identified the four pillars of food security as AVAILABILITY,ACCESS,UTILIZATION,STABILITY. In the process of further breaking these into their structural basics, we tend to better understand the part probably going wrong.

AVAILABILITY:

It is almost an absolute conclusion that  food consumers outnumber producers in every country[5]. Food availability is related to supply of food through production distribution and exchange. Production has certain factors- especially availability of land. However nations don’t have to have natural resources to achieve food security as seen in example of japan and Singapore.[6]

ACCESS

Access meaning capability to reach to the available source. According to United nations committee of Economic, social, cultural rights noted that causes of hunger or  malnutrition are often not  scarcity of food but inability to access the food due to economic disability. The access to food should be measured in socially acceptable ways without scavenging, stealing or similar other resorts.

The other two  viz; UTILIZATION AND STABILITY are such that unless the former two are strengthened these can be achived nor could of any optimum aid.

The path to food security begins by exploring the challenges, then developing solutions.

In an attempt to find out the challenges to food security this  paper have magnified down to the category of accessing food.

Global security index is an initiative where by every country is monitered on numerous grounds and then rankings are provided. It is literally a holistic approach to find out  strengths and weaknesses of each country and their approach. All the grounds were catagorised into three broad catagories: availability, affordability, quality and safety.

India ranks 68th out of 109 countries. United States, Singapore. New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Sri lanka stands much ahead of India. Few challenges that could be summarized are:

  • 59% of the population is under global poverty line.
  • World’s average nutrition level is 18,555 and India is at 5790
  • Public expenditure on research and development on agriculture is almost 0%.

But there lies not only dark, in the den. We have a few but cent percent above global average; viz

  • The national dietary guidelines
  • National nutritional plans
  • Food safety programmes

In Latin America while trying to combat with the problem of insecurity an estimation of the gap between per capita and cost of a basket of food was calculated determining people lack the purchasing power. Thereafter two kinds of basket were formed. “representative healthy” and “low cost health”. Meeting the necessary minimum requirement[7]

The paradox lies in the fact that every year around 2.5 million people in their rich world die due to obesity and every day around 40,000 children die from malnutrition.

In 2006, MSNBC reported that globally, the number of people who are overweight has surpassed the number who is undernourished – the world had more than one billion people who were overweight, and an estimated 800 million who were undernourished. According to a 2004 article from the BBC, China, the world’s most populous country, is suffering from an obesity epidemic. In India, the second-most populous country in the world, 30 million people have been added to the ranks of the hungry since the mid-1990s and 46% of children are underweight.

 

FOOD SECURITY IN INDIA

5.India achieved self-sufficiency in food grains in the 1970‘s and has sustained it since then. But the achievement of food grain security at the national level did not percolate down to households and the level of chronicfood insecurity is still high

.

Launched in the Indian capital on February 20, 2009, State of Food Insecurity in Rural India tries to give a broad indicative picture of the level of food insecurity in different states of the country and the operation of the nutrition safety net programmes. The report says that the number of undernourished people is rising, reversing gains made in the 1990s. Slowing growth in food production, rising unemployment and declining purchasing power of the poor in India are combining to weaken the rural economy.

India as part of the world community had pledged to halve hunger by 2015, as stated in the Millennium Development Goal 1 India is a poignant example of how food sufficiency at the aggregate level has not translated into food security at the household level.

 

Recent years have seen the economy booming and growth rates have been among the highest in the world. The flip side, however, is that one in every five Indians suffers from overt or covert hunger. “Hunger,” as stated by Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze, is “intolerable in the modern world” in a way it could not have been in the past, because it is “so unnecessary and unwarranted.”

Food security in India has to be understood as a distress phenomenon, as with marginal increase in their incomes over time they are forced to cut down on their food consumption to meet other pressing demands of health and education

The government has been implementing a wide range of nutrition intervention programmes for achieving food security at the household and individual levels. The Public Distribution System (PDS) supplies food items, such as food grains and sugar, at administered prices through fair price shops. There have been a range of food-for-work and other wage employment programmes. Another approach adopted by the government is to target women and children directly; this includes mid-day meal programme for school going children and supplementary nutrition programme for children and women. Few of the schemes that have been implemented to enhance the accessibility part are:

  • FOOD FOR WORK PROGRAMME : 1977-78: food grains for the labors working.
  • MID DAY MEAL SCHEME : 1995: lunch free of cost to all the children on working days.
  • PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM: 1997: established network of PDS shops(ration) providing items at subsidized rates
  • ANAPURNA YOJNA: 1999: 10 KG food grains to elderly people
  • NATIONAL FOOD FOR WORK PROGRAMME: 2004
  • NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY MISSION: 2007

 

Besides these the recent topic of discussion has been NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY ACT 2013. The Bill aims to provide heavily subsidized food to two-thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people. Seventy five per cent of rural and 50 percent of the urban population entitled to five kg food grains per month at Rs.3, Rs.2, and Rs 1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains, respectively. The Bill proposes meal entitlement to specific groups, including pregnant women and lactating mothers; children between the ages of six months and 14 years; malnourished children; disaster-affected persons; and destitute, homeless and starving persons. The measure envisages food grain entitlement for up to 75 percent of the rural population and up to 50 percent of the urban population. Of these, at least 46 percent of the rural population and 28 percent of the urban population will be designated as priority households. The rest will be designated as general households. In case of non-supply of food grains, states would have to pay a food security allowance to the beneficiaries.

 

The reasons which led to the non success of the plans and schemes were primarily; lack of   storage facility; water availability; lack of knowledge; long process; corruption; trade malpractices so on and so forth. The point that needs to be heeded is that production was never an issue. According to the economic survey of India 2012-2013, the net availability of the food grains has comparatively been higher than the number of public distribution. It is thus clear that the resources been procured are not percolating to the root and creating a havoc situation. In such a scenario  the national food security would be a definite help, but we still need to rectify the exact bottlenecks in the whole disbursing process.

 

[1] www.businessdictionary.com/defination/glo:html accessed on 14/1/15 at 11.13 am

[2] Robertson,Roland(1992).Globalization: social theoryand global culture. London sage ISBN- 0803981872

[3] Albrow, martin and Elizabeth(1990). Globalization, knowledge and society ISBN-9780803983243

[4] Raj patel(20-nov-13)’food sovereignty is the next big idea’-accessed on 14/1/16 at 12:31pm

[5] Luther(1999).” The economics of global food security”

[6] www.jstor.com , accessed on 14/1/15 7:18 pm

[7] www.fao.org/docrep/005/y429e/y4249eOF.html  accessed on 15/1/16 at 4:18 pm

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