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The Monthly Journal

Vol. 62 No. 1 Pages 52
November 2013

Rajesh K. Jha
Senior Editor
Editor Supply-Side Challenges of
Maruf Alam The National Food Security Bill S. P. Singh 3
Joint Director
Vinod Kumar Meena
Food Security Vs Farmer Security Dr. Parveen Kumar 9
ASHA SAXENA Hurdles in implementing Food Security Bill Dr. Arabi. U, Ramya H.D 12
ROOM NO. 661, NIRMAN BHAVAN Food Security A Remedy for malnutrition K.N. Tiwari 19
NEW DELHI-110011 Worlds Largest Experiment to Feed Millions Dr. Archana Sinha 24
TEL. : 23061014, 23061952
FAX : 011-23061014 Food Security in India - Issues and Concerns Santhosh Kumar.H 28
E-MAIL : kurupage@yahoo.co.in
RENEWALS AND AGENCY Making Food Security Work Anumpam Sarma 30
PLEASE CONTACT: Gene Revolution-Solution for Food Crisis Dr B.K Mohanty 33
Business Manager
EAST BLOCK-IV, LEVEL-VII, R.K. PURAM, Water Management and food Security Dasharath Prasad
NEW DELHI-110066
TEL. : 26100207 Rakesh Kumar 38
FAX : 26175516
E-MAIL : pdjucir@gmail.com
WEBSITE : publicationsdivision.nic.in Vegetable based Agripreneureship Shubhadeep Roy
for livelihood security Yerasu Suresh Reddy
INLAND Vanitha, S. M. 41
1 YEAR : ` 100
2 YEARS : ` 180
3 YEARS : ` 250 Zinc: Vital to Crop Production and Productivity Yashbir Singh Shivay 44
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Kurukshetra seeks to carry the message of Rural Development to all people. It serves as a forum for free, frank and serious discussion on the
problems of Rural Development with special focus on Rural Uplift.
The views expressed by the authors in the articles are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the government or the organizations they
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ndia has joined the league of countries who guarantee majority of its population
food grains. The government has passed the much awaited National Food Security
Bill which will ensure legal food entitlement to 75 per cent of the rural population
and 50 per cent of the urban population, across the country, at reasonably cheaper
The scheme provides for distribution of rice at Rs. 3 per kilogram, wheat at Rs. 2 and
coarse grains at Re. 1, per person.

The Food Security programme, the largest in the world, guarantees the countrys
810 million poor, coarse grains, such as sorghum, pearl millet or bajra, and finger millet
or ragi, at 1 per kg. These coarse cereals are rich in minerals, especially, micronutrients
It is estimated that around 62 million tones of food grains will be needed each
year to implement the programme at a cost of over One lakh crore Rupees.
The implementation of such a programme has its own problems- relating to
both supply and distribution and the ability of Indias agriculture to cope with the
demands. We discuss the supply side of the Food Security programme and other
issues including the hurdles which the government could face to implement the
ambitious programme.
The success of the Food Security programme would also be measured by the
proportion of eligible households that actually benefit from the bill, especially in states
with a large Below Poverty Line (BPL) population.
While the programme would be affordable in the current financial year,
concern has been raised by some on the fiscal pressure the spending could have
on Indias budget, in the years ahead.
It has also been argued by some analysts that growing subsidies could restrict
investment opportunities, including those in the agriculture sector.
However, there is unanimous opinion amongst policy planners and analysts that
the Food Security programme is needed, whatever the cost.
Ideally, the bill will be able to protect everyone from hunger and can make a
significant contribution to the elimination of under nutrition in the country.
The Food Security Bill has provision of free nutritious meals to children and
pregnant and lactating women which gives a paradigm shift in imparting nutrition

2 Kurukshetra November 2013

Supply-side Challenges of the National Food
Security Bill
S. P. Singh

R emoval of malnutrition and hunger from the

country is not only socially desirable but also
necessary for improving overall economic
development, as healthy people contribute more
out of 81 countries, slightly above Bangladesh and
below all other South Asian countries. In Global Food
Security Index, India ranks 66 out of 105 countries.
It is in this context that the National Food Security
to the economy with their relatively higher level of Bill (NFSB) assumes significance as it gives legal right
productivity and efficiency. Hunger and malnutrition to subsidised food grain to 67% of Indias population
put enormous cost burden on the society. A World (75% of rural and 50% of urban households) and also
Bank Report states that malnutrition brings down makes provision for nutritious meal to pregnant and
three percent of countrys GDP annually. Various lactating mothers and children. Assuming no leakages
survey reports indicate that in spite of relatively in the distribution system, we can argue that the
higher GDP growth achieved during the neo-liberal demand-side constraints in the food accessibility of
policy regime, hunger and malnutrition among a the intended beneficiaries would largely be removed
majority of Indian population still persists. National after the execution of the NFSB. However, supply-
Family Health Survey (2005-06) reveals that the side constraints may have serious implications for
percentage of aneamic ever-married women in the maintaining the food security. This paper, therefore,
age group 15-49 has increased from 53.9 in 1998-99 focuses on the supply-side challenges of the NFSB.
to 58.2 in 2005-06 in rural areas and from 45.7 to
51.5 in urban area. An Overview of NFSB
Similarly, percentage of aneamic children In recent years, the Government of India has
has also increased from 75.3 to 81.2 in rural areas taken several initiatives towards ensuring rights and
and 70.8 to 72.7 in urban area between the same entitlements of citizens of the country. The NFSB is
periods. The International Food Policy Research one of them. Its objective is to provide for food and
Institute (IFPRI) report on hunger ranks India at 67 nutritional security in human life cycle approach,

Kurukshetra November 2013 3

by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality Bill is expected to seal leakages in the food delivery
food at affordable prices to people to live a life with system through technological and administrative
dignity. interventions, such as, use of Aadhaar Card and
setting up of new accountability, transparency and
It provides legal guarantee to 75% of rural and
grievance redressal system. Moreover, since more
50% of the urban population to get five kg food
than two-third of Indian population, including non-
grains per month at Rs.3, Rs.2, Re1 per kg for rice,
poor, get legal right to have cheap food grains from
wheat and coarse grains, respectively. The poorest
the PDS, possibility of leakages and supply of poor
of the poor continue to be covered under Antyodaya
quality of food grains may be minimized due to
Anna Yajana (AAY) and get 35 kgs food grains per
their collective power and action. However, major
month. It also makes provision for pregnant women
challenge in the execution of the Bill seems to be the
and lactating mothers to get nutritious meals and
maternity benefit of at least Rs.6000 for six months. identification of eligible households. Under the NFSB,
As per the NSSO survey 2009-10, monthly per capita responsibility of selection of beneficiaries is given to
consumption of cereals was about 11.35 kgs in rural the state governments which have to finalise the list
and 9.37 kgs in urban areas. Thus, the NFSB meets of eligible households in each village and town. As
approximately 50 percent of cereal requirement of has been happened in the past, this time also, there
eligible households. `The bill also empowers women may be possibility of exclusion of eligible households
as it considers the eldest woman in the household (18 or inclusion of non-eligible households. An Expert
years or above) as the head of the household for the Group headed by N C Saxena estimated that 61% of
issue of the ration card. The state and district level the eligible population was excluded from the BPL
redress mechanisms will also be put in place and list, while 25% of APL households were included in
provision of social audit and vigilance committees the list.
will be made to ensure accountability, transparency Approximately 62 million tonnes of cereals
and quick redressal of grievances. The State Food is required to implement the NFSB. In the
Commission will also be set up. The Bill also stresses current financial year (2013-14), under the TPDS
on revitalization of agriculture and food production (AAY+BPL+APL) the government has allocated nearly
and universal access to safe drinking water and 50 million tonnes (MT) of cereals (rice and wheat).
sanitation. Out of the total annual allocation, 10.22 MT was
The Planning Commission of India has estimated made under AAY and 17.46 MT under BPL. Thus,
state-wise coverage of rural and urban households under the current arrangement, only 27.68 MT
under the NFSB. The percentage of eligible households of cereals was distributed at the much subsidized
varies across states. For example, among the major rates. In 20013-14, economic cost of rice and wheat
states of India, the percentage of rural households is estimated to be Rs.2643.61 and Rs.2010.22 per
to be covered under the Bill is highest in Jharkhand quintal, respectively. It means that the direct cost
(86.48%), followed by Bihar (85.12%), Chhattisgarh of providing one kg of rice and wheat under the
(84.25%), Assam (84.17%) and Odisha (82.17). It is TPDS to the government would be Rs.23.44 and
estimated to be lowest in Kerala (52.63%), followed Rs.18.10, respectively. The additional procurement
by Haryana (54.61%), Punjab (54.79%), Himachal as a result of the NFSB will not only put enormous
Pradesh (56.23%) and Tamil Nadu (62.55%). The pressure on the existing infrastructure of the FCI
percentage coverage of urban households will be but also constantly increase the financial burden
highest in Bihar (74.53%), distantly followed by Uttar on the government exchequer. Even if the quantity
Pradesh (64.43%), Madhya Pradesh (62.61%), Assam of food remains the same each year, the amount of
(60.35%), Jharkhand (60.20%), and Chhattisgarh food subsidy will increase annually due to increase
(59.98%). It would be lowest in Himachal Pradesh in the cost of food production, distribution and
(30.99%), followed by Tamil Nadu (37.79%), Kerala management. Economic cost of food grains can be
(39.50%), Haryana (41.05%) and Andhra Pradesh reduced if the TPDS is decentralised and efficient,
(41.14%). This clearly shows that relatively developed transparent and inclusive delivery system is put in
states would get less number of households covered place.
under the NFSB.
One of the reasons for monthly distribution of
Current PDS in most of the states is not found cereals under PDS was that poor households did not
working efficiently. Planning Commission estimated have the sufficient purchasing power to buy cereals
that about 45-55% of food grains under the PDS for the entire season. Therefore, under the current
did not reach to the intended beneficiaries. This PDS, food grains are released and distributed under

4 Kurukshetra November 2013

the PDS on monthly basis. Since, under the NFSB, the increase in income, people diversify their
the eligible households would get rice/wheat/ consumption towards high income elastic livestock
coarse cereals at the rate of Rs.3/2/1, respectively, and horticultural products. For instance, share
there would be no difficulty to them if they buy of food grains in the total food expenditure has
their allotted quota six monthly. For example, if an declined from 47.4% in 1987-88 to 36% in 2009-
eligible household in North India purchases 150 10 in rural areas and from 32.6% to 29% in urban
kgs of wheat (its six month quota), only Rs. 300 will areas, whereas, share of dairy products, eggs, meat,
be paid. This amount can easily be earned through fish, and vegetables has increased from 26.7% to
two days manual work. Problem of storing of huge 34.1% in rural areas and from 32.6% to 36.4% in
quantity of cereals by the FCI may be solved if food urban areas during the same period. This makes a
grains are distributed under the TPDS twice in a year
strong argument that the food security should not
at the time of Rabi and Kharif harvesting.
be limited to the accessibility of food grains but it
One of the key issues is that this Bill does not should be extended to the availability of livestock
have exit-clause. Only issue prices are supposed to and horticultural commodities. In this regards, two
be revised after three years. Our past experiences points may be taken into consideration. First, poor
show that if someone is used to enjoy the benefits households get more calories from cereals than
of any scheme, it is hard to withdraw it. The same non-cereal food items. Table 1 shows that bottom
argument may be valid for the NFSB. It would be 10 percent rural and urban households in India in
difficult, if not impossible, to withdraw it even after 2009-10 met respectively 72.7 and 66.4 percent of
hunger and malnutrition are completely removed their calorie requirement from cereals, while the
from the country. corresponding percentages for the top 10 percent
The implementation of the Bill may create households were 47.4 and 34.6 respectively in rural
mismatch between demand and supply of cereals and urban areas. The table shows that there is
in the economy. Since more than one-fourth of wide difference between rich and poor in regard of
total cereals will be sold through the TPDS at the the per capita calories consumption. For example,
subsidized rates, there would be possibility of bottom 10% households in rural and urban areas
diversion of cheap cereals towards cattle and poultry consume only 1619 and 1584 calories, respectively,
feeds and thus can distorts the market. Moreover, while the corresponding calories intakes in case
small and marginal farmers may shift to non-cereal of top 10 percent households are 2473 and 2511,
crops as their requirement may be met from the respectively. This implies that poor households
NFSB. It is also feared that agriculture would face consume much less calories than the minimum
shortage of workers as the Bill may motivate the prescribed norms. This makes a strong case for the
agricultural workers not to work as their food implementation of NFSB. Second, diversification
requirement will be easily met through TPDS. In of dietary pattern towards meat, poultry, milk and
some regions, farmers have already feeling the heat
other livestock products would increase the indirect
of increasing real agricultural wages mainly due to
implementation of MGNREGS. Labour cost is one of demand for cereals for feed grains. Since over 67%
the most important components of variable cost of of population will be covered under the TPDS, the
cultivation. In recent years, real wages in agriculture direct or indirect consumption of cereals may likely
has increased faster than the real growth in gross to increase in future, raising further demand for
value added in agriculture. During the last five year cereals and consequently their prices.
period (2007-11), real farm wages recorded an Table 1: MPCE Decile Class-wise per capita
average annual growth rate of 6.8 percent, while real calorie intake and share of cereal in total calorie
growth in agriculture was only 3.3 percent. intake in India in 2009-10
Supply-side Challenges MPCE Per Capita Calorie Share of cereals in
The NFSB has several challenges, such as, Decile intake Calorie intake (%)
identification of eligible households, huge subsidy Class Rural Urban Rural Urban
burden on the government exchequer, and volatility 1 1619 1584 72.7 66.4
in food grains production and prices. Our focus here 2 1795 1773 68.6 61.6
is on the supply-side challenges of the NFSB. As
reported by the NSSO surveys, direct consumption 3 1901 1872 66.5 58.3
of cereals has declined over the period due to 4 1994 1964 65.1 56.2
changes in the dietary pattern of the people. With 5 2072 2029 62.5 53.8

Kurukshetra November 2013 5

6 2131 2134 61.4 51.8 decades, area under non-agricultural purposes has
7 2247 2195 59.5 48 increased from 21.087 million hectares (Mha) in
1990-91 to 26.513 Mha in 2010-11, a net increase
8 2315 2311 57.3 46.2
of 5.42 Mha. Contrary to this, net cultivated area
9 2473 2511 54.4 41.7 (NCA) has declined from 143.999 Mha to 141.579
10 2922 2855 47.4 34.6 Mha during the same period. Similarly, the share
Source: NSSO 66th Round 2009-10
of non-agricultural sector in the total water use
has increased from about 6 percent during 1983-
There are several supply-side bottlenecks in 87 to about 9.6 percent during 2008-12. In future,
the food security of the country. First is declining due to fast urbanisation and industrialization, there
the productivity of land and rising input cost in would be more demand for land and water for non-
agriculture. The chemicalization of agriculture has agricultural uses, thus having serious implications for
not only degraded the precious land and water future food security. Moreover, regional disparity in
resources, but also affected the land productivity and the availability of land and water resources is also an
quality of agricultural products. There is increasing issue in this context. Water and land both are the key
tendency of abandoning of agriculture by farmers drivers of agricultural growth. These two inputs are
as it is no longer considered to be a profitable and unevenly distributed across states. In some states,
respectable occupation. Agricultural workforce has there is sufficient area of arable land but there
been becoming more ageing and more feminized. is acute shortage of water (for instance western
How to attract educated youths (both males and region) and therefore per hectare productivity is
females) in farming activities, especially in doing quite low. On the other hand, in some part of the
innovations in agricultural practices needed for country, there is sufficient quantity of water, but
raising productivity per unit of labour, land, water size of operational holding is too small to introduce
and other inputs, is a major supply-side concern. Due modern farm practices (for example eastern region).
to knowledge-deficit in agriculture, there is a huge Government of India has special focus on agricultural
productivity gap between what the technologist gets development of eastern states and wants to make
in the experimental farm and what a farmer gets on this region as a future food bowl of the country.
his farm. Therefore, price policy driven agricultural There is no physical scarcity of water in this region;
growth may not be sustainable if it is not properly however economic scarcity of water along with
integrated with technological breakthrough. natural factors, such as, flood limits the scope of
potential increase in food production. On the other
The NFSB ensures quality food to the eligible hand, in northern state like Punjab, which supplies
households. Quality food cannot be possible both wheat and rice to national pool, water has
through the on-going process of chemicalization of become a scarce input due to its overexploitation.
agriculture. We have to promote organic farming Punjab transfers huge quantity of virtual water to
not only to provide safe and quality food but also to others states by supplying cereals to the central
maintain soil fertility, water quality, and reduce non- pool.
point sources of pollution of water bodies. Organic
farming could be a viable option if government In recent years, food prices have significantly
supports farmers by protecting their farm income, increased, making food items unaffordable to poor
developing marketing infrastructure, putting in place households, and at the same times, agricultural
the institution of certification, quality checking, and income has not increased in commensurate with
branding, and training. Agriculture is getting huge the increase in the cost of cultivation, consequently
amount of direct or indirect subsidies. At least one- increasing distress among farmers. Increasing
third of these subsidies can be directed towards energy prices have made agricultural production
promotion of organic farming. Keeping in view the more expensive via raising the production and
negative externalities that the conventional farming transportation costs. Agricultural diversification
has generated in terms of soil and water pollution and rising energy prices have significant impact
on the food security. A high growth in horticulture
and public health cost, the organic farming would be
and livestock products may not improve nutritional
more cost-effective than the conventional farming.
status of the common masses as they have little or
Another critical issue in food security is no access to fruits and livestock products. Secondly,
increasing use of land and water resources for increasing consumption of highly income-elastic
non-agricultural purposes. During the last two food products such as meat and dairy products also

6 Kurukshetra November 2013

increases the demand for cereals for feed-grains and in international markets may compromise our food
thus cereals prices, affecting the poor households. security. If India decides to enter in the world market
If more quantity of grains is diverted towards as a bulk importer of food, international prices would
production of meat and dairy products, less quantity increase to a greater extent, thus jeopardizing our
would be available for common masses for direct food security.
consumption. The NFSB is likely to increase both
direct and indirect demands for cereals. Summing Up
Increasing energy prices would also affect the Given the current trend in the productivity
food security. Energy prices affected the food prices levels with growing pressure on water and land,
in two ways: First, rising prices of petroleum products it would be a difficult proposition for the public
motivates the government and corporate sector to agencies to ensure food security on sustainable
go for producing bio-fuels. Although, in India, grains basis. Among others, there are three key supply-side
are not being used to produce ethanol, however, its challenges in regard of food security. First is a trade
possibility in future cannot be ruled out. If you look at off between food and fuel. Rising energy prices in
the trends in developed countries, you will find that the world market may motivate the corporate sector
indirect demand for cereals (feed-grains and fuel- to produce bio-fuels from cereals. The second trade
grains) is much higher than the direct demand. The off is between food and feed. Increasing demand
increasing production of bio-fuel reduces the global for high-income elastic dairy, poultry and meat
availability of food grains for consumption and thus products may increase cereal demand for livestock
raises the food prices. Second, increasing energy feed and as a result, would affect the food security
prices makes agricultural production more expensive of poor people who cannot afford to buy costly dairy
via raising the cost of mechanical cultivation, inputs and meat products. However, small and marginal
like fertilizers and pesticides, and transportation of farmers and landless workers, who supplement
inputs and outputs. It may be relevant to note that their income from livestock activities, may gain from
the share of mechanical and electrical power in the this diversification. Third challenge is the trade off
total power consumption has significantly increased between food and wood
from 39.63% in 972-73 to 86.6% in 2005-06, while
corresponding share human and animal power As discussed above, farmers in the north region
has come down from 60.37% to 13.4% during the have been gradually sifting towards cultivation of
same period. Energy intensification in agriculture poplar trees as it has emerged more remunerative
has increased the external cost of agricultural than crop husbandry. This may have some impact
production. on the food security. Apart from these challenges,
increasing land demand for non-agricultural uses and
Another most critical issue in context of food
security is diversion of cultivated land towards near stagnant or decline in productivity of land, water
wood farming. High GDP growth is leading to and other resources are other supply-side challenges
increase consumption of wood and wood products which are to be properly addressed. Since possibility
like furniture, timber, pulp & paper. Recently, some of bringing additional area under cultivation is quite
farmers of Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, limited, future demand for agricultural products,
Himachal Pradesh, and plains of Uttarakhand have including food, can only be met by enhancing
been gradually shifting towards cultivation of poplar productivity and efficiency of agricultural resources.
trees which is turned out to be more remunerative As, food security is not less than the national security;
than the crop husbandry. It is expected that in future food security system cannot be made vulnerable to
more land would be brought under cultivation of the production and price volatilities of global food
poplar trees due to various reasons, including labour market. Therefore, policy focus must be on removing
shortage, low profitability in crop husbandry, and the supply-side bottlenecks by raising investment
increasing absentee land owners. Increasing indirect in agricultural infrastructure, R&D, human capital,
demand for cereals and declining areas under roads, markets, storage, and processing, along with
cultivation may create mismatch between supply support to organic farming and reform in tenancy
and demand and generate inflationary pressure and and lease laws.
consequently the fiscal burden on the government.
[The author is Professor of Economics,
Volatility in food systems due to exogenous Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT
shocks from weather related events or instability Roorkee email: singhfhs@iitr.ac.in]

Kurukshetra November 2013 7

8 Kurukshetra November 2013
Food Security vs Farmer security
Dr. Parveen Kumar

W illiam Paddocks and Paul Erlich in their

books in seventies had wrote that India
along with Egypt and Haiti would be
declared, Cannot be saved and left to starve
because the amount of aid needed to bail out their
act marks a shift in approach to the problem of
food security; from the current welfare paradigm
to a rights-based approach. The legislation
confers eligible beneficiaries the legal right to
receive grain at highly subsidized prices. For a
malnourished millions would be so great so as to country like India where about 250 million people
leave little for everyone else. Commenting on the still are in the grip of hunger and malnourishment,
state of agriculture production in India, the writers the recommendations of the Food security act will
further said that Gambia and Libya would be able definitely go a long way in achieving food security
to survive without immediate aid and Pakistan and for all. The act however puts the limit on the food
Tunisia would be the beneficiary of US food aid grain quota to five kilogram per person per family
only because they made some effort to implement subject to a maximum of 25 kg per family. The right
population control campaigns and have a sufficient
to food campaigns had demanded 35 kilograms
robust political structure to make them worthy of
per family.
aid. Although they knew that knew of the wheat
varieties development work of Dr. Norman, but still The act brings under its purview 75% of
they believed that even the green revolution would rural households and 50% of urban households.
not be able to save India Egypt, Haiti and Philippines The beneficiaries would receive five kilograms of
from the impending crisis. subsidized food grains at the rate of rupees three
Definitely proving them wrong the per kilogram for rice, Wheat for rupees two per
Government of India came out the Right to Food kilogram and coarse cereals for rupees one per
by enacting Food security act that entitles kilogram. Besides this, the law also entitles every
food to about two third of the population at an pregnant woman and lactating mother to meal
affordable cost so as to ensure that all Indians free of cost during pregnancy and six months after
live a life with dignity. The act passed by child birth. The act also provides for a maternity
the parliament is definitely a landmark social benefit of Rs. 1,000 a month for six months.
legislation much important for fighting against Every child up to the age of fourteen shall have
hunger. No other country has such a provision. The entitlement to nutritional needs. For children

Kurukshetra November 2013 9

between six months and six years, appropriate the peoples through various safety net programmes
meal would be provided free of charge through the and various policy as well as institutional reforms. To
local Anganwadi to meet nutritional standards. For fulfill the right to food the Government must provide
children in the 6-14 age group, one mid-day meal an enabling environment for the people to feed
would be given free of charge every day, except themselves. It also implies three types of obligations
during holidays, in all schools run by local bodies, of the state viz. i. Respect of the existing access and
and government and government-aided schools up the state not to take any measures that can result in
to class eighth. preventing such access, ii. Protect i.e. states to ensure
that no enterprise or individual deprives human of
Without food all the components of social the access to adequate food and iii. Fulfill i.e. state to
justice are meaningless. Manjeet Singh Kang former actively engage in activities intended to strengthen
Vice-chancellor of Punjab Agriculture University, the people access to and utilization of resources and
Ludhiana says that the act has adopted a life cycle means to ensure their livelihood.
approach as it provides a nutritious diet from pre
birth to death. It has expanded the food basket by A growing world population and the escalating
including in addition to rice and wheat health or hunger and malnutrition demand immediate public
nutria foods such as Maize, Jowar, Bajra and Ragi. intervention. The Right to Food is not just related
The Right to food will also confer legal rights on to poverty, it is a much broader than poverty. Poor
women, children and other special groups destitute, do get two square miles a day but what matters is
the homeless, disaster-and-emergency-affected the quality of food. In fact Right to Food equals food
persons and persons living in starvation to receive sovereignty. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples
meals free or at an affordable price. to safe nutritious and culturally appropriate food.
Article 25(1) of the universal declaration of human
Jean Ziegler, a member of the UN Human Rights rights of 1948 states that everyone has the right to
Councils Advisory Committee, working as an expert a standard of living adequate for the health and well
on economic, social and cultural rights, including being of himself and his family, including food. Food
the Right to Food once remarked that In a world and nutritious rights were subsequently reaffirmed in
overflowing with riches, it is an outrageous scandal two major binding international agreements. Article
that more than 1 billion people suffer from hunger 11 of the international covenant on Economic, Social
and malnutrition and that every year over 6 million and Cultural rights (ICESR) binds the states present
children die of starvation and related causes. We at the covenant to recognize the rights of everyone
must take urgent action now. This is despite the fact to an adequate standard of living for himself and his
that the United Nations considers the right to food family and also recognizes the fundamental right of
as an individual right. The United Nations committee everyone to be free from hunger. India is a state party
on Economic Social and Cultural rights defines the to ICESCR. Hence there is an obligation to respect,
Right to Food as the right of every men, women protect and fulfill the right of food of every citizen of
and child alone and in community with others to the country.
have physical and economic access at all times to
adequate food or means for its procurement in ways Farmer security: Where do we stand?
consistent with human dignity. In 1996 world leaders Dang Kim Son, Director General of the Institute
from 185 countries got together at the world food of Policy and Strategy for Agricultural and Rural
summit and reaffirmed the right of every individual Development (IPSARD) has rightly said that food
to safe and nutritious food. The government of India security in a country starts with the farmer who
from time to time has taken various steps to feed provides the food. Today we talk of making tall claims
about record food grain production and providing
them to the peoples at an affordable cost but there is
another side of the coin too. Those facts and figures
cannot be ignored also. To what Prime minister of
India described as a national shame, the findings of
HUNGaMA (Hunger and Malnutrition) Survey Report
2011, which said that in 100 focus districts located
in six states, 42 per cent of children under five are
underweight and 59 per cent are stunted .The report
of National Crime records bureau 2009 also came
out with a shocking revelation. It put the number
of suicides in the year 2009 at 17,368 (Kumar, N,

10 Kurukshetra November 2013
2011). The report further said that the suicides and ultimate reduction of their dependence on food
are not region specific but are spread across India. grain subsidies. The real problem with the Indian
46 farmers commit suicide every day even as the agriculture is that of low productivity. More than
packages are rolled out in a bid to bail out the debt 80% of the farmers are small and marginal. The small
ridden community from the crisis. The Nutrition size of farms along with lack of quality inputs lead
Barometer Launched by two NGOs World vision to low production. All this forces the small farmers
and Save the Children that assess the governments to depend on subsidized food grains as their own
political legal and financial commitments towards productivity is low. The productivity of the small
tackling the scourge in 36 countries which are home farms has to be improved by suitable technological
to 90% of worlds malnourished children says that interventions. Suitable farming system models should
in India every day 5000 children die largely due to be developed for different agro-climatic zones.
causes that are preventable like malnutrition and lack Farmers need to be motivated for diversification.
of a proper diet. The same farmer which once during A large of investment is required for increasing the
the green revolution era appeared enthusiastic and area under irrigation. As per estimates a sum of
determined irrespective of age now is willing to leave roughly Rs 1,11,000 crore would be required to boost
this profession. farm output with grain requirement increasing, on
account of this intervention, from 55 million tonne to
Even in agriculturally progressive state like 61 million tonne annually. For this we have to invest
Punjab 37% of farmers wants to quit agriculture. in agriculture to boost production in a big way. Credit
Definitely the percentage must have risen high is also an important requirement in the agricultural
now. 95% of farming community has no access to production process.
microfinance and insurance. 56% still borrow from
informal sources and 70% has no deposit account Although the government has started a lot of
in Banks. Crop insurance also covers only 4-6% of programmes for the financial inclusion of farmers but
farmers. Youths are not interested in agriculture. A all those schemes are beyond the reach of farmers.
December 2012 report of the Institute of Applied Hassle free and timely availability of credit should be
Manpower Research (IAMR), a part of the planning made available to the farmers so that they does not
commission said that on an average 2,035 farmers fall in the hands of money lenders who charge huge
are losing main cultivators statuses every single rate of interests from them ultimately forcing them
day for the last 20 years. Isnt this shocking? Isnt it the consume their lives. Climate change is another
ridiculous to talk of providing food security when we threat that can severely reduce our yields. Suitable
cannot provide security to the farmers who provide drought resistant varieties should be developed and
us food? provided to the farmers. Farmers need to be made
aware of the mitigation and adoption strategies.
Projections say that by 2050 we would have Agriculture insurance is another area which needs
forty per cent more population than it is now. Indian to be looked upon immediately. Indian agriculture
population grows at 15 million in two years i.e. a is said to be the gamble of monsoons. The whole
population equivalent to Malaysia. With the food agriculture production process is subjected to the
security act in place can India produce the required vagaries of monsoons. Agriculture insurance should
amount of food grains in the backdrop of such a large be provided to the farmers for their crops. At the
number of farmers leaving farming? The answer is a same time suitable infrastructure has to be created at
big No. Without farmers security being an inbuilt the gross root level. Food security through increased
mechanisim in any food security programme we productivity along with wise and judicious use of our
cannot achieve our target. Now the biggest question natural resources is the also need of the hour. At the
is how to make our farmers secure. same time the agricultural scientists have to come
For this we have to plug the loopholes in our out with practical solutions to the problems faced by
existing agricultural production and distribution the farming community
system. Agriculture has to be revamped. Lakhs of The more the secure a farmer; the more is the
tonnes of food grains spoil every year due to lack of agriculture production which ultimately ensures food
adequate storage facilities. Scientific grain storage security for all. If we are able to make a farmer secure,
and modern storage structures should be constructed only then we can hope that the food is available to
in higher production areas. Proper storage structures the aged, the infirm, the disabled, the pregnant and
can stop the rotting of food grains. An effective lactating women and to all those who do not have
delivery mechanism to reduce the pilferage of food the financial resources to get sufficient food.
grains is also essential. Similarly value addition and
food processing facilities have to be provided to [Dr. Kumar writes on agriculture issues and
raise the farm income of small and marginal farmers can be reached at pkumar6674@gmail.com]

Kurukshetra November 2013 11

Hurdles in implementing Food Security Bill
Dr. Arabi. U, Ramya H.D

ndias Food Security Bill 2013 is considered As the Bill in its present form throws up major
as a landmark bill to make the right to food a operational and financial challenges, obviously it
legal entitlement. Ideally, the bill will be able has enormous ramifications on the cereal economy
to protect everyone from hunger and can make a markets of Indian agriculture. It is important to
significant contribution to the elimination of under ensure adequate availability of grain with the public
nutrition in the country. As the bill proposes to authorities to fulfill the underlying obligation in the
provide food at a subsidised rate to nearly two- Bill. However, given the current trends and volatility
thirds of the countrys population; but ending in rates of growth in foodgrains production and
under nutrition requires many other interventions yields, the growing pressures on land & water in the
related to health care, safe water, and sanitation. wake of climate change, dependence on monsoon
Nevertheless, some provisions of the bill will have rains needs lot of government intervention to
a significant nutritional impact, like, childrens augment production further, enhance procurement,
entitlements to nutritious food. Other provisions, and stock large amounts of grains to meet the
such as those relating to the PDS, are better seen commitments of food distribution through public
as a form of social security than as a nutritional
intervention specifically. However, the fundamental
problems of Indias malnutrition, visa-viz, 61 million
children being chronically undernourished, 8 million
children suffering from severe acute malnutrition;
thus, the focus needs to be on the right to adequate
nutrition, beyond the right to food as the bill
In recent years despite ensuring ample
availability of food, existence of food insecurity
at the micro-level in the country has remained a
formidable challenge for India. In this context the
recently introduced National Food Security Bill
(NFSB) aims to address this and marks a paradigm
shift in addressing the problem of food security
from the current welfare approach to a right based
approach. The central pivot of the Bill is large-scale
subsidized grain distribution to almost 1.2 billion
countrys population to achieve food and nutritional
security. It implies a massive procurement of
food grains and a very large distribution network
entailing huge financial expenditure. But the long-
term feasibility of the envisaged strategy under
NFSB need an adoption of holistic approach to
point out the major laps and hurdles in achieving
the hunger free society. This will possibly cover the
entire system of food production, food procurement
and distribution network existing for achieving food
security on sustainable basis.

12 Kurukshetra November 2013
food delivery system. To fulfil these, the mechanism during the last few years in specific states like Tamil
of ensuring adequate possible foodgrains availability Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan,
on sustainable and stable basis needs to be explored Odisha among others. These experiences provide
other than what exists now. a reasonably clear roadmap for PDS reform across
the country. Some elements of that roadmap are
Inadequacies in the bill included in the bill like inclusive coverage, clear
Farmers bodies in India fear that the bill entitlements, de-privatisation of ration shops,
would lead to making the government the biggest computerisation of records, among others. Beyond
buyer, hoarder and seller of foodgrains. There is that it is best to leave it to the states to reform
a clear feeling that this would distort the market the PDS in their own way, instead of centralising
mechanism and reduce the bargaining power of PDS management. However, although the flawed
farmers. Besides the bill also makes no provisions distribution system has made matters worse,
for production of food or for support of small but, the purpose of the bill is to correct delivery
and marginal farmers who are food producers; of mechanism. This is one of the many reasons that
course, a single bill cannot address all food related have led to malnourishment among women and
issues. Small and marginal farmers have certainly children. Most social security schemes meant
been left behind in the growth process, and for them are either not reaching them or getting
need various kinds of public support, related, for severely diluted due to leaks in the system.
instance to power supply, economic infrastructure, On the whole, the Food Security Bill suffers
credit facilities, land rights, and environmental from few drawbacks:
protection. The main objection to the bill is that it
does not specify any time frame for the rolling out Firstly, it does not specify/identify who will
of the entitlements. come in the excluded category. In other words,
unless it decides clearly who will not get subsidised
The country continues with a targeted PDS, food grain; there is the need to wait for more time
excluding 33% of the population from accessing to identify.
it as a right, giving scope to large exclusion of the
poor in the country as a whole. The improved Secondly, NFSB specify that 67% or 75% %
framework of single pricing in the present bill over population of rural areasshould get subsidised food
the dual pricing under the existing above poverty grain.But, the question of majority of population
line - below poverty line system is undermined by in rural areas remains being as farmers, crop
the exclusion of a third of the country. While the sharers, agricultural labours etcalready have more
Indian Council for Medical Research recommends than 600 kgsof wheat or rice for consumption for
that an adult requires 14kg of food grains per month whole of the yearin their houses after the period
and children 7kg; the bill provides entitlements to of harvesting is over, then such people are being
5kg per person per month, thus ensuring only 166g covered for subsidised food grains; thus benefits
of cereal per person per day. Also, the bill provides again reach to those already entitled to benefit.
only for cereals with no entitlements to basic food
Thirdly,a huge amount ofcost of transportation
necessities such as pulses and edible oil required
of food grains involved which is stated to be twice
to combat malnutrition. The bill allows the entry of
the amount of cost of procurement of wheat, then,
private contractors and commercial interests in the
then the question of why in rural areasbeneficiaries
supply of food in the integrated child development
are not given 600 kgs of wheat or rice by sarpanch or
scheme and it also tying maternal entitlements
Patwari of a particular village panchayat; which will
to conditions (like two-child norm) discriminates
hopefully save thecost of transportation,storage,
mothers who have more children.
commission, overheads, pilferagedue to rains and
Concerns remain over PDS that it will rats.
intensify corruption. The government should
In brief, the important inadequacy in the NFSB
focus on productivity enhancement rather than on
2013 can be listed as:
subsidising food at the expense of taxpayers. There
have been many positive experiences of PDS reform Firstly, it does not specify any time frame

Kurukshetra November 2013 13

for rolling out the entitlements and the grievance the government has to procure whatever comes
redressal of the states in the Bill. In fact several into the market and that is the main challenge.
entitlements and redressal structure would require The government also brought down the wastage
state legislatures to make adequate budgetary from 2.5% to 0.1% (of foodgrains) over the last five
allocations; hence, implementation of the Bill may years, but this will have to go further. Although the
be affected if states do not pass requisite allocations government has also started an operation called
in their budgets or do not possess adequate funds. clean FCI (Food Corporation of India)to clean
all the storage and distribution, until five years ago,
Secondly, it continues with a Targeted PDS,
hence the scope for exclusion of 33 % of the poor the government had capacity of only 55 mt. Now
population from accessing the PDS as a right the capacity gone down; this may require few more
covering the entire country as a whole. years to complete. Once this exercise completes,
then only it is possible to know the actual foodgrains
Thirdly, although an adult requires 14kgs of wastage in FCI.
food grains per month and children 7kgs; the Bill
provides for reduced entitlements to 5kgs per The cash transfer aspect of the food security
person per month, thus, there is an absence of Bill has to be introduced carefully. The government
entitlements to pulses and oil in the PDS, so fails to (Food Ministry Department) can start the cash
address the widespread problem of malnutrition. transfer scheme only after at least 90% of the
beneficiaries have bank accounts and when there
Fourthly, the Bill continues to allow for the is end-to-end computerization. The cash transfer
entry of private contractors and commercial scheme, however, does not mean that officials are
interests in the supply of food in the ICDS by insisting giving cash instead they will continue to procure
on specific norms related to Food Safety Acts and foodgrains, transfer and distribute them. What
micronutrient norms. However, these standards the Bill proposed is that, for example, for rice the
can only be met through centralized factory based government gives Rs.20 to the beneficiary and he
food production. In this regard, the Supreme Court can addRs.3 from his pocket and purchase 1kg of
has ordered to keep private contractors away from rice from the fair price shop (FPS). Since the system
the food schemes for children, particularly in a will be computerized, a certain beneficiary has
take-home ration of ICDS scheme. Further, the role to purchase rice from the FPS, and that will get
of self-helf groups and their effort to provide local adjusted in the quota. If the beneficiary does not
food have also been ignored. purchase foodgrains with that money, after two
Fifthly, the Bill does not have an effective months he will stop getting the cash. That is why
grievance redress mechanism. The Bill ignores end-to-end computerization is a prerequisite for
the needed food delivery supervisory role at local the successive implementation of the bill and this
Panchayat or Gram Sabha level. infrastructure may take two more years.
Finally, the Bill does not provide any agriculture The government already procures one-third
and production-related entitlements for farmers in of the cereals production. In several states like
spite of the fact that more than 60% of the people Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh,
in this country are dependent on agriculture for and Chhattisgarh, the states are overwhelmingly
their livelihoods. dominant in procuring rice and/or wheat, leading
to almost a situation of monopsony. Any further
Major hurdles for the implementation of the increase in procurement by any state would crowd
Bill out private sector operations with an adverse
The areas that the government needs to focus effect on overall efficiency of procurement and
on are procurement. This has increased to 75 mt. storage operations, as well as on magnitude of food
But last year, foodgrains storage was 82 mt. In fact, subsidies and open market prices. This would also
wheat storage alone last year was 39 mt and this slow down or even regress the process of overall
year it is expected to be 44-46 mt. Further, there diversification in agriculture, and go contrary to the
is no limit on government procurement. Hence, emerging demand patterns in the country.

14 Kurukshetra November 2013
The food subsidy in coming years will balloon and wheat, through the existing public distribution
due to the lower central issue price of grain, a system (PDS) and other welfare schemes, costing
significant rise in the number of entitled beneficiaries the exchequer about Rs. 1,25,000 crore annually.
and the need to keep raising the MSP to cover the The National Food Security Bill 2013 could be an
rising costs of production and to incentivize farmers effective policy instrument, or say, a game-changer
to increase production of cereals. The existing food for national food security if the government is able
security complex of procurement, stocking and to overcome large scale corruption and reduce
distribution would further expand and increase the leakage and wastage through computerization and
operational expenditure of the scheme given its involving the local bodies. The learned experiences
creaking infrastructure, leakages (which amount from states like Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu have
to about 40 percent as per our calculations) and shown that, increased local participation and
inefficient governance. This raises not only the issue innovative technologies including smart cards and
of sustainability of the financial obligations entailed computerized records have made food distribution
in NFSB, but also its efficacy in trying to extend food transparent, more efficient and better targeted.
Overall better results can be obtained by
As the report, titled A Global Development integrating various welfare schemes designed to
Agenda: Toward 2015 and Beyond, argues that raise the wellbeing of the poor masses as revealed
the world has made substantial progress toward from the experiences in countries such as Brazil,
achieving many of the Millennium Development Ethiopia and Bangladesh. In fact, these countries
Goals (MDGs) targets, such as halving the proportion took initiatives to bundle income/food transfers
of people living in poverty, the progress has been very
with education and healthcare. Hence, India may
slow on other priorities for development including
have to consider these successive policy initiatives
global hunger and nutrition. Consequently, as we
so as to pullout poor themselves from poverty and
frame the global development agenda toward 2015
become self reliant in the coming years.
and beyond these goals should include a stand-alone
goal to end hunger and achieve food security and Another paradigm shift needed in Indias food
good nutrition, and they should advance womens security strategy relates to nutrition security for
economic empowerment, community resilience, and which the Food Bill has provision of free nutritious
effective institutions. In this regard, the emphasis meals to children and pregnant and lactating women,
should be on the importance of making hunger a which is very encouraging. But the time to diversify
prominent and free standing development goal. As the food strategy through policy changes, R&D
hunger is a universal human experience, and setting and investment towards more nutrient-rich foods,
goals to which the global population can relate to is including pulses, the poor are increasingly unable
crucial to garner support and mobilize towards its to afford as it demands more paying capacity.
success; stunting should be a key indicator under
the hunger goal. Stunting is a powerful indicator of Although the bill focuses on food subsidies, the
hunger, and more importantly, also a key indicator of government has an open door to introduce other
deep generational poverty. types of benefits, such as direct cash transfers and
vouchers. Although the cash transfers have the
If we recognise that malnutrition is a multi- potential to reduce costs and market distortions, their
dimensional problem and needs a multi-pronged success may be significantly hindered by insufficient
strategy, then we have to include the costs of banking infrastructure networks especially in the
creating such a rural and urban infrastructure to
remote un banked regions and the absence of well-
tackle malnutrition of children and women at any
functioning markets and supermarkets. However,
significant scale, which the country will have to
there is no clarity about plans on how these different
attend to in due course, the financial obligations
schemes will come together and time bound. Above
under the NFSB will be much higher than are
all, as the international experience shows that food
indicated in the Draft Bill.
vouchers have led to the largest improvements in
The National Food Security Bill (NFSB) envisages dietary diversity followed closely by cash transfers,
distribution of about 61.2 mt of cereals, primarily rice while food transfers led to the largest increase in

Kurukshetra November 2013 15

calorie intake, India should treat different types of in the NFSB to innovate and evolve into such a CCT
transfers as complementary food security tools. scheme, using the globally acclaimed expertise of
This attitude will allow policy makers to adjust when India in IT and Aadhaar, to connect to and pull those at
and how much cash and food is transferred based the bottom of economic pyramid. As under nutrition
on the desired outcome, market conditions and jeopardises childrens survival, health, growth and
the ability of institutions to deliver. But the current development, it also slows the national progress
conditions and the status prevail across the country towards development goals. Under nutrition in India
to attain the direct cash transfer benefits indicate happens very early in life; about one-third of children
that, Government has to explore further needful are already undernourished at birth because of
mechanisms to speed up the process as it require to nutrition deprivation during prenatal life due to the
overcome deficiencies in the provision of the Aadhar poor nutrition situation of women before and during
/Smart cards to the beneficiaries across the country. pregnancy. Thereafter, poor feeding, care and hygiene
practices in the first two years of life contribute to
While centralized planning is all right, the
compound the situation. But to address nutrition
government must not discourage or ignore local
security, a comprehensive approach is required,
innovations; thus, it calls for the Bill should be flexible
which may include a host of policy programmes like,
enough to accommodate local ideas, particularly
improving the diets and nutrient intake of children
those through the Panchayats. Therefore, all the
and women; ensuring access to essential health
ongoing and any new development schemes/ projects
services and improving hygiene and sanitation;
should be integrated in the overall framework of
improving womens education and decision making;
long term development perspective of agricultural
and improving poverty reduction and safety net
development and welfare of the larger poor people;
programmes for the most vulnerable. Hence the bill
which further doubts how it is possible and time
needs to address childrens right to the correct food.
Similarly, as nutrition forms the basis for prosperity
The Food Bill is a grand scheme and will cost and economic progress, it is not just an outcome
around Rs 1, 30,000 crore annually which is about but also a driver of development and economic
1.1% of GDP. For example, the economic cost of rice growth. Hence, specific emphasis should be on the
to the government is about 20 rupees per kg and will importance of making hunger a prominent and free
be sold to ration card holders at between Rs 1 and standing development goal.
3 per kilogram, which is a subsidy of 18 rupees per
Since the NFSB also aims at improving the
kilogram. A total of about 62 million tonnes of food
nutritional status of the population especially of
grain will be needed under the food bill; but even
women and children, womens education, access
if the grain quantity remains fixed each year, the
to clean drinking water, availability of hygeinic
subsidy cost will keep increasing annually because
sanitation facilities are the prime prerequisites for
the rising input cost to the farmers will always keep
improved nutrition. Hence, it needs to be recognised
the pressure to raise the minimum support price
that malnutrition is a multi-dimensional problem;
(MSP). This will increase in effective cost of the
hence needs a multi-pronged strategy.
grain to the government; surely the selling price at
the TPDS is unlikely to change and it is also likely It may be well noted that, in fact, this Bill is
that because of the rising population, the food being brought in the Parliament to enact an Act
grain quantity will also increase. Therefore, given when internationally, conditional cash transfers
the rising costs of the scheme in coming years, its (CCTs), rather than physical distribution of subsidized
sustainability is doubtful. food have been found to be more efficient in
achieving food and nutritional security. Similarly,
the best practices of income policy approach
As India learns from the global best practices of around the world have shown that price policy
poverty reduction, malnutrition, hunger -starvation is not an efficient device in achieving equity ends.
and adapts them to Indian conditions with a view The evidence reveals that this has been adopted
to tackle its food and nutritional security concerns, successfully by many countries across the world like
which can be done by allowing enough flexibility Brazil, Mexico, and Philippines etc.

16 Kurukshetra November 2013
Most of the over 550,000 villages produce instance, the recently announced policy of cash
food crops; the rest focus on cash crops and villages transfers for some 29 schemes excluding food and
have something to sell in the market, indicating fertilizers subsidy in 51 districts in 15 states from
surplus food grains. Yet, in the same village there are 1st January, 2013 are some of the bold steps in the
hungry people; thus the question of why cant the right direction. Besides these, it could have also been
food security system use the local surplus stock to linked to education as is done in Bangladesh where
distribute among the local hungry and poor needs school children and their families are given access
solution; which means decentralized storage of food to subsidized food. Of course, in India we have the
grains seems inevitable. Current practise of public midday meal scheme for children to improve their
food delivery system has the mechanism of deriving attendance in schools. The bill should have also
food grain in the PDS shops from a centralized included subsidized rates for pulses which for many
warehouse located far away. So, decentralised PDS of the poorest are the only source of protein and
along with its whole procurement, storage and other nutrients.
distribution grain will necessitate the involvement of
As it appears, given the fiscal constraints, there
the local Panchayat bodies. Hence, greater emphasis
is always a trade-off between allocating money
needed based on the principle of decentralised
through subsidies and increasing investments into
provision of food grains through the supervisory agricultural sector in India. Therefore, to sustain long-
control by panchayats or village republics in India. term growth in agricultural production and also to
The need also arise now to learn from the local reduce poverty faster the focus of public expenditure
tradition of food grain bank which have worked for agriculture needs to shift towards investments to
brilliantly based on the principle of sharing and boost productivity rather than subsidies. In contrast,
caring, where, perhaps, even in the hunger belt of however, NFSB is likely to shift the nature of resource
Kalahandi in Orissa, there are villages where people allocation more towards subsidies rather than
dont starve. investments which will be retrogressive from long
term agricultural growth and sustainable food security
Finally, since the proposed bill likely to cause point of view. This should be taken much care.
heavy public expenditure burden, physical delivery
of grains in remote areas or extremely deficit states [Dr. Arabi. U is Professor and Chairman,
needs further financial support may cause huge Department of Studies and Research in Economics,
budget deficits can still go on and if the state feels it Mangalore University, Mangalagangothri,
is necessary to carry its obligations that way, then, Karnataka.574199, and Ramya H.D. Ph.D. is
necessary bold steps are to be taken to avoid wastes Scholar, Department of Studies and Research
in or food leakages as well to reach the benefits to in Economics, Mangalore University,
real beneficiaries in the country. In this context, for Mangalagangothri, Karnataka-574199]

Forthcoming Issues

Panchayati Raj : January 2014

Rural Development Schemes : February 2014
Rural Infrastructure : March 2014
Budget 2014-15 : April 2014
Agribased Industries in Rural Development : May 2014
New Technologies in Agricultural Development : June 2014

Kurukshetra November 2013 17

18 Kurukshetra November 2013
FOOD SECURITY A Remedy for Malnutrition

The programme when implemented will be the biggest in the world with the government spending estimated
at Rs 1.3 lakh crore annually on supply of about 62 million tonnes of rice, wheat and coarse cereals to 67
per cent of the population.

ood security refers to a households physical sufficient resources, both economic and physical, to
and economic access to sufficient, safe, and obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. Food
nutritious food that fulfills the dietary needs use is the appropriate use based on knowledge of
and food preferences of that household for living an basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water
active and healthy life. Food security for a household and sanitation. The FAO adds a fourth facet: the
means access by all members at all times to enough stability of the first three dimensions of food security
food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes over time.
at a minimum (1) the ready availability of nutritionally
adequate and safe foods, and (2) an assured ability Indicators to Measure Food Security
to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable Food self sufficiency, food security and nutrition
ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food security are the essential components of food and
supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping nutrition security. Therefore, food security should
strategies) (USDA). The World Health Organization ensure both adequate food availability and desired
defines food security as having three facets: (1i) Food nutrition. Food and nutrition security should go hand
availability (ii) Food access and (iii) Food use. Food in hand. Nutrition security can be defined as physical
availability is having available sufficient quantities and economic access to balanced nutritionand clean
of food on a consistent basis. Food access is having drinking water to all people at all time. Only when

Kurukshetra November 2013 19

a country has achieved nutrition security for all its agricultural productivity, hunger, poverty, and
people will it have provided an opportunity for every sustainability. Hunger and poverty eradication
child and adult to express his or her innate genetic requires an understanding of the interconnection
potential for physical and mental development of these two evils. If poverty exists, then hunger,
(Swaminathan 1986). and the malnourishment both follow it. Poor
health coupled with poor economy prevent poors
to learn, work, and care for themselves and their
family members. In developing countries, often
70% or more of the population lives in rural areas.
In that context, agricultural development among
smallholder farmers and landless people provides a
livelihood for people allowing them the opportunity
to stay in their communities. In many areas of the
world, land ownership is not available, thus, people
who want or need to farm to make a living have little
incentive to improve the land.

Food insecurity exists when people are

undernourished as a result of the physical unavailability
of food, their lack of social or economic access to
adequate food, and/or inadequate food use. Food-
insecure people are those whose food intake falls
below their minimum calorie (energy) requirements,
as well as those who exhibit physical symptoms
caused by energy and nutrient deficiencies resulting
from an inadequate or unbalanced diet or from
the bodys inability to use food effectively because
of infection or disease. An alternative view would
define the concept of food insecurity as referring
only to the consequence of inadequate consumption
of nutritious food, considering the physiological use
of food by the body as being within the domain of
nutrition and health. Malnourishment also leads to
poor health hence individuals fail to provide for their The Food Security Bill : Governments Flagship
families. If left unaddressed, hunger sets in motion Programme for Twelfth Plan
an array of outcomes that perpetuate malnutrition,
reduce the ability of adults to work and to give birth A huge percentage of the Indian population
to healthy children, and erode childrens ability to lives below the poverty line where getting one square
learn and lead productive, healthy, and happy lives. meal a day is a challenge. The food security bill aims
This truncation of human development undermines to satisfy this basic want and in that sense although
a countrys potential for economic development for it encourages welfare economics, the intention is
generations to come. noble. This is what would need to be weighed against
other economic considerations.
The Agriculture-Hunger-Poverty Nexus
The National Food Security Bill 2013 aims to
There are strong, direct relationships between provide 5 kg of food grains per person per month

20 Kurukshetra November 2013
at subsidised prices from State Governments under 1.3 lakhs crores per year and as such, the increase
the targeted public distribution system. The eligible in subsidy burden would add to the current fiscal
households will be entitled to food grains at a account deficit woes.
subsidised price not exceeding Rs 3 per kg for rice; Rs Inflationary pressures: Procurement of rice,
2 per kg for wheat and Re 1 per kg for coarse grain. wheat, and millets by the government of such huge
The programme when implemented will be the quantities would result in less quantity available
biggest in the world with the government spending in the open market, thereby pushing up foodgrain
estimated at Rs 1.3 lakh crore annually on supply of prices. As agriculture in India is a gamble of monsoon,
about 62 million tonnes of rice, wheat and coarse the poor or excessive raifall in a particular year would
cereals to 67% of the population. necessitate procurement through imports, which in
turn will again enhance prices of the foodgrains and
Public distribution system and leakages:Twin
Problem The current system of distribution through
the approximately 5 lakh fair price shops spread
across the country suffers from logistics issue of
picking up the food from the source, storage and
onward transportation coupled with the leakages
on account of pilferage, rotting of grains and
logistics inefficiencies accounting for nearly 40% to
50% of the total food stock. If this trend continues,
the nation cannot afford the incremental losses
on account of additional procurement envisaged
under the Bill.
Food security legislation to put pressure on
public finances: FICCI: Implementation of food
security legislation will impose pressure on public
finances and push up the fiscal deficit to 5% of the
Gross Domestic Product in the current financial year,
said a FICCI report. ...it will impose an additional
Implications of Food Security Bill pressure on the fiscal situation and would make
A huge percentage of the Indian population fiscal sustainability plan of the country difficult
lives below the poverty line where getting one square to achieve. As a result, the expected fiscal deficit
meal a day is a challenge. The food security bill aims to GDP ratio is 5 % for 2013-14, which is slightly
to satisfy this basic need and in that sense although above the budgeted 4.8%,. It said allocating food
it encourages welfare economics, the intention is through public distribution system is plagued with
noble. This is what would need to be weighed against inefficiencies and ensuring efficiency in the delivery
other economic considerations. system is required. Further, the survey said decline
in industrial output, widening current account deficit
Subsidy burden: To gain a perspective on the and a depreciating rupee may dampen the growth
subsidy portion, we should loo k at the per kg price prospects the country if adequate supportive action
of at least rice and wheat. As per todays price of is not taken.
Government current procurement price, the prices
of rice and wheat would be approximately Rs. 13.45 Food security programme: A remedy for
per Kg and Rs. 12.85 per Kg, respectively and at this malnutrition ? There are doubts on how effectively
price the subsidy portion would be Rs. 10.45 per the legislation will tackle all factors perpetuating
kg of rice and Rs.10.85 per kg of wheat. Taking into malnutrition in India. Though congress leaders have
account the total number of beneficiaries and the officially touted the ordinance as their chief means
quantity of foodgrains to be distributed, the burden to tackle malnutrition in the country, but data on
on the exchequer is projected at a whopping Rs. the nutrition problem suggests that the legislation

Kurukshetra November 2013 21

is inadequate to deal with certain facets of the public health problems relevant to the malnutrition
issue. The ordinance currently stipulates five kg of challenge.
foodgrain, classified as coarse grain (including rice,
As mentioned earlier, nutrition security
wheat, and millets) per person per month. However,
should satisfy the physical and economic access to
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines
balanced nutrition and clean drinking water to all
stipulate at least 16 kg for adults and seven kg for
people at all time, the availability of clean drinking
children. The ordinance also fails to provide access
water to meet peoples water needs should also to
to the entire basket of nutrients necessary to
be met by developing water resources. Arresting
effectively improve the nutrition status of the target
the trend of declining ground water level due to
increasing population and thus increasing water
The ordinance specifically provides for free demand is a big challenge. As ground water
meals to pregnant and nursing women (six months capital is not infinite, its over exploitation should
after childbirth) along with children up to 14 years, be avoided. Agriculture is the major consumer of
through local angan wadis (primary healthcare ground water. The water demand of agriculture
centres). These free meals can help pregnant can be minimised by balanced cropping systems.
women gain weight and maintain it as they nurse. This can be done by increasing productivity of rice
It will consequently increase weights at birth. More based cropping systems (Rice Wheat and Rice-
than a fourth of all newborns are low birth infants Rice) and the area, thus, saved through increased
weighing less than 2.5 kg, according to latest UNICEF productivity could be utilised for less water and
data. A healthy infant weight is around 3 kg at birth, less nutrient demanding crops like pulses and
according to UNICEF. millets. While food security can be limited to
access to more calories and diversified nutrients,
Free meals to children, especially adolescent
any legislation will need to address sanitation
girls, can also increase their weight-for-age and
shortcomings to truly attack all malnutrition
allow them to have healthy pregnancies and infants,
problems. Diarrheal diseases, for example, create
according to Kadiyala. But the success of free angan
a perpetual cycle of deteriorating malnutrition;
wadi meals is questionable especially after the
repeated episodes reduce the bodys ability to
deaths of 22 children in Bihar who consumed a mid-
absorb nutrients, according to Kadiyala. Diarrhea
day meal made headlines this week.
claims 13% of all child mortalities, according to
Calling it a missed opportunity, Dr. Suneetha UNICEF. Studies continue to find links between
Kadiyala, a Research Fellow with the IFPRI nutritional status and sanitation. IFPRI has found
(International Food Policy Research Institute) at New in an ongoing exploratory analysis that access to
Delhi explained that the ordinance was too focused clean toilets is most significant when explaining
on calories and not on diet diversity. According to declining malnutrition in Indias Hunger States.
her The Food Security Bill does not give access
to diversified food, which is what food security is
Ensuring Food Sef Sufficiency
all about. This is really the grain provision bill. India has made consistent progress towards
Kadiyalas critique points to rampant micronutrient food self sufficiency with a record production of
deficiency and related diseases that perpetuate 259 million tonnes (mt) in 2011-12. During 2011,
chronic undernutrition. While providing food grains India ranked second in the world in respect of total
will help increase access to calories, it will not ensure production of wheat (80.8 mt), paddy (144 mt),
beneficiaries get all important nutrients. Most cite groundnut (shell 5.6 mt), sugarcane (292.3 mt),
iron deficiency and related anemia which claims cotton (seed cotton 17.8 mt), vegetables and melons
22,000 maternal deaths per year, according to ICMR. (100.3 mt), fruits excluding melons (75.2 mt) and
Latest ICMR data shows 87% of pregnant women and first in total pulses (17.1 mt). Production of most of
75% of children below five years of age suffer from the food items increased more than double which
iron-deficiency anemia. UNICEF data shows that contributed in improving per capita availability of
Vitamin A and iodine deficiencies are also significant all food commodities except pulses thus eliminated

22 Kurukshetra November 2013
dependence on imports, and India turned out to
be a next exporter of foodgrains. Our granaries are
not only full but due to poor storage facilities, the
foodgrains lying in open also started rotting.
In spite of significant improvement in
agriculture and allied sector, the fact lies that low
production and low productivity are at the core of
agricultural problems in India. There is considerable
variation in productivity levels of various districts
across and within the states. In a study of productivity
assessment of the 551 districts, the productivity/
ha/year was low in 51% of districts which did affect
the standard of living of farm households, especially
that of marginal and small farmers. About 60% of
the gross cropped area is still rainfed. Various studies
indicate that the potential of rainfed areas has not
been fully utilized.
Indian agriculture has started witnessing
second generation problems like diminishing
return on inputs with declining use efficiency,
soil fatigue with decreased content of organic
carbon and increasing deficiencies of secondary
and micronutrients. So far, our major focus was
to enhance crop productivity that happened on
the cost of soil health. Exploitive agriculture offers
great possibilities if carried out in a scientific way
but poses great dangers if carried out with only an
immediate profit motive. Intensive cultivation of
land without conservation of soil fertility and soil
structure would lead, ultimately, to the springing
up of deserts. Management of land, water and
nutrients, therefore, assumes great importance
for sustaining a strong food production capacity
and environment.
[The author is Ex. Director, International
Plant Nutrition Institute-India Program and Ex.
Professor and Head, Department of Soil Science
and Agricultural Chemistry, Chandra Shekhar Azad
University of Agriculture and Technology, Kanpur,
5/1074, Viram Khand, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow

Indian agriculture has started witnessing

second generation problems like diminishing
return on inputs and soil fatigue

Kurukshetra November 2013 23

Worlds largest experiment to feed millions
Dr. Archana Sinha

ndia is acclaimed internationally for its fast climate change, biodiversity, desertification, water
growing economy among the developing depletion, etc are being apparent, which in turn are
countries. At the same time it is struggling becoming unfriendly to nature and human health.
with problems of poverty, hunger, unemployment There is a critical need for developing systems to
and food insecurity, though the poverty level has alleviate the environmental disorders in order to
declined remarkably in terms of percentage from boost crop productivity. Soil health is defined as the
over 60 percent during 1951 to about 26 per cent in continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living
2011. However, there is no significant improvement system, by identifying that it contains biological
in malnutrition level especially among deprived elements that are key to the ecosystem function
and marginalized groups. There are several factors within land use limits. After the liberalisation in
that challenge Indias food security. Firstly, due to 1991 there is a boom in land market in favour of
urbanisation the area under cultivation is reducing industries, housing sectors and more recently the
and being used for non-agricultural purposes. educational sector. Good agricultural land is being
Today humanity is facing a disheartening challenge. converted for these non-agricultural purposes
The natural resources, both on land and water, are resulting reduction in overall production as well
increasingly in demand to accommodate with the as per capita availability of food grain. Secondly,
human needs and potential. there is continuous drought or flood that continues
In order to feed the burgeoning population to take place in different sections of the country
of India and to attain food security, the efforts for each year ensuing decline in food grain production.
increasing food productivity and its sustainability Thirdly, there is also a radical lessening in overall
through advanced agro and biotechnological production of pulses due to changes in cropping
ways are to be undertaken. However, problems of pattern. Further over a time period of twenty years,

24 Kurukshetra November 2013
there is a sharp hike in costs of fruits, vegetables and food grain availability to meet requirements, India
milk that are most essential nutritional supplements procured around 73 million tonnes last year which
making it economically out-of-the-way for majority is way above the requirement of 61 million tonnes.
of the people. A shortfall like in the year 2009-10 of 10 million
tonnes will not affect distribution under the scheme.
Anti Poverty Scheme India has exported around 12 million tonnes of food
The government of India has been putting into grains last year. The government procured 72.5
operation several anti-poverty schemes to provide million tonnes in 2012-13, 63.34 million tonnes in
both physical access to food through its public 2011-12, and 56.71 million tonnes in 2010-11 of
distribution system and economic access to food rice and wheat. India has five million professed fair
through its wage employment and self-employment price shops that sell subsidized food grains, but they
schemes. Though the government of India has may not be sufficient to cope with the increase in
endorsed the convention on social, economic and people entitled to the inexpensive rice and wheat.
cultural rights, it had not made legislations on A revamp of the public distribution system was
right to food. Currently the Indian government is crucial for the schemes implementation. States such
planning to introduce the national food security Act as Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
to provide both physical and economic access to already have a fairly efficient public distribution
food to its poor population. The issue arises whether system, but others like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
the poverty and hunger will be solved in agreement have to catch up. The real crisis could be manner of
with the millennium development goals of United identifying the beneficiaries. The ordinance has left
Nations? This paper is an endeavor to draw attention the working of the criteria to state governments, and
to the issues discussed above. Food security in India many of which have still not commenced with the
has to be understood as a distress phenomenon, process. The Union government has not put out the
as with marginal enhancement in their incomes criteria for determining state-wise share of the food
over time they are forced to cut down on their food grains as well.
consumption to meet up other imperative demands of
health and education that were not well thought-out Worlds Largest experiment
important in the earlier period. Towering economic The Food Security Bill, envisages the distribution
growth rates have failed to improve food security in of wheat, rice and coarse grains at just Rs 2, Rs 3 and
India leaving the country facing a crisis in its rural Re1 per kilogram each to about 65 per cent of the
economy. If food security is a multifaceted objective, population, 75 per cent of them in rural areas and the
in a world where individual households face varied,
rest in urban areas. Additionally, some entitlements
complex and diverse livelihood opportunities, in
to special groups, like destitutes or homeless
such context what role can policy possibly play? This
persons, who will be entitled to at least one meal
present paper attends to the several food security
a day. Through this worlds largest experiment of
issues prevalent in the Indian scenario. Some issues
providing food grain to poor, the government plans
and figures are mentioned from relevant sources to
to double its food subsidies to 2 per cent of the
highlight and analyse the gravity of the food security
gross domestic product. Being a basis of livelihood
issues in India. It also points several development
and food security for an immense majority of low
programmes taken up by the Indian government to
income, poor and vulnerable segments of society,
oppose various food security issues including several
and its performance assumes greater implication in
schemes and policies.
view of the proposed National Food Security Bill. As
Food security is described as the state when India is still home to the leading number of poor and
people have physical and economic access to sufficient, malnourished people in the world, a higher priority
safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs to agriculture will achieve the goals of reducing
and food preferences for an active and healthy life. poverty and malnutrition as well as of inclusive
Future global environment change such as increased growth. Achieving an 8-9 per cent rate of growth in
climate variability, land degradation and loss of overall gross domestic product may not deliver much
biodiversity, in the context of social, political and in terms of poverty reduction unless agricultural
economic changes, may bring unprecedented stress growth accelerates. Simultaneously growth with
on the food production system and food security. On inclusiveness can be achieved only when agriculture

Kurukshetra November 2013 25

growth picks up the pace and is also widely shared scheduled tribes population exceed the survey
amongst people and regions of the country. All these numbers by 1 per cent. Further, this entails that
factors point to just one thing, that agriculture has fewer scheduled castes and scheduled tribes would
to be kept at the main focus of any reform agenda be part of the poverty list. This census-survey gap in
or planning process, in order to make a significant population figures of scheduled castes and scheduled
impression on poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and tribes is seen as sensitive since it involves the sections
to ensure long-term food security for the populace. more likely to be poor. Being scheduled castes and
scheduled tribes is also one of the seven deprivation
Malnutrition indicators to rank the surveyed households in the
Eighty-seven per cent of the rural population poverty index. Hence, a good number of scheduled
and 61 per cent of urban residents in Bihar had castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) may be left out
calorie deficiency during 2009-10, as reported by of the ambit of the ambitious Food Security Act, with
National Sample Survey Office. In fact, Bihar ranked the socio-economic caste census reporting lesser
74th in the global hunger index of 88 countries, as number of households of the two communities than
per survey report of India State Hunger Index 2008. found by the decennial census, a fraught prospect
In the same survey, Jharkhand ranked 76th, Odisha that has led to jitters in the government.
67th and UP 61st, all in the alarming zone. Even in a
However, nutritional protection and security
food-deficit state like Tamil Nadu, only 80 per cent of
would be guaranteed in long term, only if the
the population acquires grains from the PDS (public
government improves livelihood opportunities. The
distribution system). Likewise, in Chhattisgarh, where
government has to improve agriculture production
there is universal food security, only 60 per cent avail
irrespective of the National Food Security Bill. It has
the scheme. It appears that not more than 50 per cent
of the 810 million people will attend ration shops. been unable to reach its target of 4 per cent growth
Food security concerns facing the country, tells that in agriculture, therefore, the additional expenditure
Bihar has the highest child malnutrition rates in the for improving agricultural production on account of
world. Given that Bihar being a multi-hazard prone bringing in the National Food Security Bill (NFSB),
state, where the paradox with Bihar is that flood and 2013 remains sound. The government goes on board
drought exist simultaneously consequently, in this on one of the worlds most ambitious government
state food grains need to be constantly diverted for mission, which is to give its two-thirds people, or
relief work. The living condition of people in some of of Indias 810 million populations, the right to food.
the Bihar villages is grimmer than at most places in The ambitious plan should be seen in the context
the world. It seems that Bihar could be potentially of India being home to roughly one third of the
the biggest beneficiary of National Food Security worlds poor; where over 70 per cent of children are
Bill (NFSB), 2013. It is said the Food Security Bill will malnourished and about 10 million or more people
address the problems of hunger and malnutrition. The die of chronic hunger or hunger-related illness
Food Security Bill is aimed at giving legal rights to 67 every year. On the brighter side, the scheme could
percent of the population for a uniform quantity of 5 leave poor households with more money to spend,
kg food grains at a fixed price of Rs 1-3 per kg through encouraging consumption. Once it is implemented,
ration shops. However, there will be no change in the ordinance, which will necessitate to be in due
food procurement practices, dispelling concerns course replaced by a law, will arm citizens with the
about changes that could disrupt the system. The legal Right to Food under the National Food Security
government will continue the procurement as it is scheme. Anyone eligible for the subsidized food can
and farmers will be guaranteed the minimum support approach the courts if he or she is denied this right.
price also. The public distribution system will be Hence, National Food Security Bill (NFSB), 2013 is
revamped and rationalized for effective distribution not just about 5 kg of food grains. It would give a
of food grains. new foothold to the public distribution system (PDS)
at large, if it has an extensive coverage and clear
As per the records of socio-economic caste entitlements.
census (survey), 1702 tehsils across 27 states have
fewer scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes [Dr. Archana Sinha is Fellow and Head,
(STs) than found in the decennial population census Department of Rural and Urban Studies, New Delhi.
2011. The census figures of scheduled castes and email: sinha3may@gmail.com;]

26 Kurukshetra November 2013
(RANK-19) (RANK-48) (RANK-49) (RANK-51) (RANK-59)

Kurukshetra November 2013 27

Santhosh Kumar.H

nsuring the food security continues to be a provide for food and nutritional security in human
challenging issue of vital importance for the life cycle approach, by ensuring to access adequate
developing countries like India. The Millennium quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people
Development goals provide us with the starting point to live a life with dignity and for matters connected
to assess the level of food security and prioritize our therewith. The act enshrines freedom of right to
effects to achieve it. The first food and nutrition.
According to the National Family Health Survey Salient features
2005-06, 40.4 per cent of children under the age of
l The act promise to cover 67 percent of
three are underweight, 33 per cent of women in the
population, it includes 75 percent rural
age group of 15-49 have a body mass index below
population and 50 percent of urban households,
normal and 78.9 per cent of children in the age group
the beneficiaries will be identified by the States
of 6-35 months are anemic. These are disturbing
based on parameters prescribed by the Union
statistics which point to nutritional deficiencies. For
the address of the food security issue government
initiated many schemes and policies, policy makers l Every person belonging to priority household
aims to strengthen the nutritional value of the people shall be entitled to receive Five kilograms of food
for better livelihood. In spite of various government grains per person per month through Targeted
schemes and safety norms, under and malnutrition Public Distribution System, as subsidized prices
remains intensive among children and women. of Rs 3 per kg for rice, Rs 2 per kg for wheat
and Rs 1 per kg for coarse grains for a period of
The National Food Security Act 2013 three years from the date of commencement
One of the major initiative towards the providing of this act: and there after such price as may be
the food security to people of the country, UPA fixed by the Central Government from time to
governments most ambitious bill recently passed time.
in Parliament, it received President of India assent l In case of non-supply of the entitled quantities
on the 10th September, 2013. The object of act is to of food grains or meals to entitled, such person

28 Kurukshetra November 2013
eligible to receive Food Security Allowance from requirement at the current levels of production and
the concerned State Government. procurement of food grains for implementation of
l The act ensures that the Central and State food security act.
Governments shall endeavor to progressively Some concerning issues
undertake reforms in Targeted Public
Distribution System. The food security includes many operational
l There is a special focus in the act on nutritional challenges and issues to reach the targeted
support to women and children. Pregnant beneficiaries, the food scenario in country has
women and lactating mothers, besides being more complex and providing the food security to
entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed all is a gigantic responsibility that requires many
nutritional norms, will also receive maternity preparations
benefit of not less thanRs. 6000/- l Reforms in Targeted Public Distribution
l This act promotes women empowerment System such as application of information and
through the eldest woman who is not less than communication technology tools to improve
18 years in every household, shall be head of PDS system, leveraging Aadhaar for unique
the household for the purpose of issue of ration identification of beneficiaries for proper
cards. targeting of benefits under this Act etc, ensure
l There is special focus on women, children transparency
and other special groups such as destitutes l Promoting the Sustainable agriculture is very
homeless, disaster and emergency affected crucial due to meet the standards of production
persons and persons living in starvation. and shortcoming of problems of small farmers.
l It strengthens the grievance redressal l The focus is on incentivizing farmers through
mechanism to starting help centers, call centers, fair value of their products by way of Minimum
appointing nodal officers etc. Support Price mechanism, distribution of
foodgrains to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families
Challenges on food security and covering poor households at the risk of
The current Bill creates a statutory entitlement hunger under food security act
for the included population and its obverse namely l Strengthening the local authorities to meet the
a legal obligation for the government. Therefore, it obligation of the food security act in this regard
is important to ensure adequate availability of grain the role of Gram Sabha is very crucial.
with the public authorities to fulfill the underlying
obligation. Given the current trends in rates of Summing up
growth in food grain production & yields, and the
growing pressures on land & water in the wake India is one of the emerging economies in the
of climate change, there is a possibility that food world, but it facing malnutrition and food insecurity
grain availability on sustainable basis becomes a problem. The HUNGaMA (Hunger and Malnutrition)
constraint. Financial obligation of central and state report published by Nandi Foundation, conducted
governments are matter of concern, simultaneously across 112 rural districts of India in 2011 showed
the government should promote the sustainable that 42 percent of children under age group of five
agriculture production are underweight and 59 percent are stunted, it is the
matter of concern in this regard the Food Security act
As per government statement total annual 2013 is very prominent, it covered 67 percent Indias
requirement of food grains, including food population to meet food security obligations, the
grains required for other welfare schemes, is act has a laudable objective of eradicating extreme
estimated at 612.3 lakh tons. Procurement of food hunger and malnutrition problem from India in the
grains(wheat and rice), both in absolute quantity and shortest possible time. The proposed legislation
in terms of percentage to production, has improved ensures a paradigm shift in addressing the problem
in recent years. The average annual procurement, of food security from the current welfare approach
which was 382.2 lakh tons, i.e. 24 percent of to rights based approach
theaverage annual production during 2000-2001 to
2006-07, has gone up to 602.4lakhtons during 2007- [The author is Lecturer in Sociology, Govt. P.U.
08 to 2011-12,i.e.33.2 percent of the average annual College, Chikkajambur (V), Shimoga (Dt.)Karnataka.
production. It will therefore be possible to meet the 577428; email:santhoshkumar.h88@gmail.com)]

Kurukshetra November 2013 29

making food security work
Anupam sarma

Even though self-sufficiency of food production has been achieved, the population still lacks access
to balanced food. It is a matter of concern that even though cereal production has kept pace with the
increasing requirements and average per capita intakes of cereals have remained satisfactory, there have
been a fall in the per capita consumption of pulses
Ninth Five Year Plan

ood security is a complex issue that has classified under four important heads. Firstly, it
been raised over time. The concept of involves adequate quantity of cereals to be made
food security indicates access of food to all available for human survival. Secondly, it involves
people of the country at all times. According to to make availability to cereals and pulses. Thirdly it
World Development Report (1986), food security involves ensuring the availability of cereals, pulses,
is access by all people at all times to enough food milk and milk products and finally extension of
for an active, healthy life. Apart from it, Food and third stage with the availability of eggs, meat,
Agriculture Organisation (FAO, 1983) has defined vegetables and fruits.
food security in terms of ensuring that all people
Availability of Food
at all times have both physical and economic
access to basic food they need. Therefore we At the country level, food security mostly
can say that food security involves not only the depends on the total production of food grains,
physical availability of food to entire population in net availability of foodgrains and per capita net
the country, but also enough purchasing capacity availability of foodgrains including the prices of it.
in the hands of the countrys people to buy food Therefore, food security at the national level refers
and maintaining timely, reliable and nutritionally mainly availability of sufficient stocks of food to
adequate food supply for long time. Thus in a meet either through domestic supply or through
modern dynamic society, food security can be imports at the domestic level of the country.

30 Kurukshetra November 2013
The idea of net production, net availability of Table-2
foodgrains and per capita availability of food in
Cereals Pulses
India has presented in Table-1, since 2001.
Year Production Production Yield
Table-1 Yield (kg/
(million (million (kg/
(In million tones) hectare)
tonnes) tonnes) hectare)
Year Net Net Net Per capita 1990-91 162.1 1571 14.8 578
foodgrain Imports availability availability 2000-01 185.7 1844 11.0 544
production of of food (in
2007-08 216.0 2151 14.8 625
foodgrains kg)
2008-09 219.9 2183 14.6 659
2001 172.2 - 2.9 156.9 416.2
2009-10 203.4 2075 14.7 630
2002 186.2 - 6.7 189.5 494.1
2010-11 226.3 2256 18.2 691
2003 152.9 - 5.5 170.6 437.6
2011-12 240.2 2396 17.2 694
2004 186.5 - 6.5 183.3 462.7
2005 173.6 - 6.0 170.0 422.4 Source : Economic Survey (2012-13)
2006 182.5 - 2.3 181.9 445.3 Table-2 reveals that production of cereals
2007 190.1 - 4.7 183.7 442.8 and pulses increase gradually. During 1990-91 total
2008 210.2 - 9.7 183.5 436.0 cereals production was 162.1 million tones as against
2009 205.2 - 4.1 189.5 444.0 1571 kgs yield per hectare. The same has achieved
2010 190.8 - 2.2 189.2 437.1 at 185.7 million tones as against 1844 kgs yield per
hectare. But in 2009-10, production of cereals has
2011 214.2 - 2.9 203.1 462.9
come down to 203.4 million tones whereas yield per
Source : Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Department hectare of cereals has reduced to 2075 kgs. If we
of Agriculture and cooperation.
notice on pulses production then it becomes clear
From the table, it is observed that there exists that in 2009-10, its production remain more or less
divergences between net foodgrain production same inspite of reducing yield per hectare from 659
and net availability of foodgrains. It is noticed kgs to 630 kgs as compared to 2008-09. As a result
that net foodgrain production in India has shown of it, per capita availability of food reduces to 437.1
a flexible trend. Since 2001, the net imports kgs in 2009-10 from 444 kgs in 2008-09. Obviously,
have become negative, which is difference of the while moving towards foodgrains security, India has
total imports and exports of the country. Thus succeeded in terms of cereals though either increase
with the increase in population of the country, in domestic production and import but has miserably
net production of food grains production, net failed to increase the production of pulses consistent
availability of food increased but expected growth with the needs of a growing population.
is still to achieved. Food security and inflation cum poverty : Food
Availability of Cereals and Pulses: From the security and inflation both are closely related to one
view point of food security it is necessary to bring another. It is because of the fact that accessibility
the cereal consumption in the 1st time to achieve to food is associated with the income and thus in
the minimum cereal consumption norm of 11.6 kgs prices of foodgrains. In India, prices of foodgrains
per month fixed for subsistence level by the Indian have increased over the years as a result of which
Council of Medical Research (ICMR). But the lowest inequality of food consumption diverge.
30 percent of our population are not able to reach Increasing prices of foodgrains lead to remove
the minimum level of cereal consumption which consumption of some food items for poor because
is become a sad commentary on our achievement of reducing their purchasing capacity. Consequently
towards food security. In this context, it is better per capita calorie consumption comes down that can
to look at the figures of net availability of cereals push up the people to below poverty line. According
and pulses in absolute terms. The following table-2 to Tendulkar Committee Methodology, the poverty
shows the net production of cereal and pulses headcount ratio in India has come down from
since 1990-91 with per hectare yielding. 37.2 percent in 2004-05 to 29.8 percent in 2009-

Kurukshetra November 2013 31

State 2004-05 2009-10
Rural Urban Combined Rural Urban Combined
Andhra Pradesh 32.3 23.4 29.9 22.8 17.7 21.1
Arunachal Pradesh 33.6 23.5 31.1 26.2 24.9 25.9
Assam 36.4 21.8 34.4 39.9 26.1 37.9
Gujarat 39.1 20.1 31.8 26.7 17.9 23.0
Haryana 24.8 22.4 24.1 18.6 23.0 20.1
Jharkhand 51.6 23.8 45.3 41.6 31.1 39.1
Kerala 20.7 18.4 19.7 12.0 12.1 12.0
Madhya Pradesh 53.6 35.1 48.6 42.0 22.9 36.7
Maharashtra 47.9 25.6 38.1 29.5 18.3 24.5
Odisha 60.8 37.6 57.2 39.2 25.9 37.0
Punjab 22.1 18.7 20.9 14.6 18.1 15.9
Uttar Pradesh 42.7 34.1 40.9 39.4 31.7 37.7
Uttarakhand 35.1 26.2 32.7 14.9 25.2 18.0
All India 42.0 25.5 37.2 33.8 20.9 29.8
Source : Economic Survey, Assam, 2012-13.
10. Though poverty headcount ratio has shown Conclusion
a declining trend yet still now a large number of
people are living below poverty line. According to From the ongoing analysis, it can be stated
Task Force on Projections of Minimum Needs and that increase in production of foodgrains may not
Effective Consumption Demand, those persons who always lead to sufficient household consumption
have not taken a daily calorie intake of 2400 per because of peoples unaffordability. Therefore
person in the rural areas and 2100 in urban areas food accessability can be increased by creating
of the country, are said to suffer the problem of more employment opportunities so that income
poverty. This definition has adopted by the planning level accelerated that can push down the level
commission in India also. of poverty. For reducing the poverty ratio, public
distribution system can play an effective role. In
During 2004-05, the wholesale price index
order to assist the poorer sections of the society,
of foodgrains in India was 179 (Source : Economic
Survey) as a result of which poverty ratio at all India the govt. should introduce effective management
level stood at 37.2 percent out of which 43 percent on public distribution system and also the dual
was in rural area and 25.5 percent was in urban price mechanism. Though both these two systems
area. But as in 2009-10 the wholesale price index of are introduced in different states of the country,
foodgrains stands at 172 (Source : Economic Survey), but has failed to achieve the desired results.
correspondingly poverty headcount ratio comes Production and access to vegetables, fruits
down to 29.8 percent out of which 33.8 percent
and livestock products have not received as much
in rural area and 20.9 percent in urban area in the
attention as deserve though such products are
country. The following table 3 is presented to showing
important contributors to food security. Therefore
some major statewise comparative statement on
percentage of below poverty line population. the biggest challenge faced by the agricultural sector
in India is to diversification of wheat and rice to
There has been a significant reduction in poverty pulses and vegetables.
ratio during the period in states like Andhra Pradesh,
Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha [The author is from the Department
etc. While some states like Punjab and Haryana of Economics, M.N.C. Balika Mahavidyalaya,
have succeeded in reducing poverty by following Nalbari (Assam), Gauhati University, email ID :
modernization path and high agricultural growth. anupam4uk2012@gmail.com]

32 Kurukshetra November 2013
Dr B.K Mohanty

he first signs of slowdown in agriculture were humans meat, dairy products, fruits, vegetables,
visible in the mid 1990s, mainly due to a decline, sugar etc. According to UN estimates there will be at
in public investment in agriculture. By the end least 800 million hungry people looking for the food.
of 1990s, the signs became ominous. The CAGR If the above food production figures remains true
(compound Annual Growth Rate) of food production than why there will be hunger? The simple answer is
has fallen from 2.9% during 1980s to 1.7% in the that food is not available equally to all.
1990s. The growth rate in rice production in 1990s
has fallen to less than half of that in the 1980s while Table-1
World Population and Food Grain Production
wheat fared only slightly better. When we analyse the
trend a little closely, the food grain sector production Year Population Production Availability
was found much sharper after 1996-97. Almost all (Billion) (Million Kg Per
the crops have shown a stagnant or decelerating Tons) Capita
growth rates during the period 1996-97 to 2004-05.
1950 2.54 631 248
Therefore, it is clear that the country started facing
severe supply side problems since the mid 90s, which 1960 3.03 824 272
became acute by the turn of the century. In 1950, the 1970 3.77 1079 286
worlds population was about 2.5 billion. In 1999, it 1980 4.45 1429 321
crossed the 6 billion mark. According the United 1990 5.29 1768 334
Nations population Division, the world population
2000 6.12 1843 301
would be somewhere between 8 and 11 billion by
2050. These figures appear to suggest that it may 2007 6.60 2075 314
indeed be difficult to feed everybody in the future. Source- UN Population Division and FAO

In 1950, world food grain production was 631 Limits of Population Growth
million tons. It increased about 3 times to 1843 MT
by 2000 and further2075 MT in 2007. Thus between There is a limit to how much the earth can yield.
1950 and 2007, the population increased by about There is a limit to cultivable land, which is currently
2.6 times but grain production jumped by 3.3 times. 11% of the 13.2 billion hectares of the total land
In 1950, each person had 248 kilograms of grain. area of the planet, the rest being taken up by forests,
In 2007, this increased to 314 kg. Similar increases settlements and grass lands etc. There is also a limit
have occurred in the whole range of food needed by to water. If everybody was to start consuming as

Kurukshetra November 2013 33

much as, say, the American consume, than obviously 4 tonnes in the developing world, while it is over 6
the earth will not be able to sustain it. At the current tonnes in the advanced Countries. There is also a
population of about 6.7 billion people, a US level per vast difference in vegetable production. Vegetable
capita consumption of 1046 kg would require world production is just 10 tons in Africa and 9.6 tonnes in
population of nearly 7 billion tonnes of food grain- South East Asia. But in North America, it is 26 tons
three and half times the present production. The and in Europe it is nearly 21.21 tonnes. The reason
earth would become a waste land by 2050.now the of this difference is that more and better resources
question arises whether the earth feed an additional have been available to the farmers. If same amount
3 billion people in the next 50 years? The answer is of resources are made available to the farmers in
yes. The reason is that the full potential of agriculture India or Bangladesh no doubt they can also produce
is yet to be realised in most parts of the world. more food products and the yield rate will increase
tremendously. It requires a shift of the method of
An Outlook cultivation both domestically and internationally.
For example, in Africa, the total harvested area In this connection Greg Wagner, Director of a grain
under cereals is 98.7 million hectares, from which trade consultancy in Chicago told Global economy
about 146 MT of cereals are produced. In North continuing to expand, the demand base has been
America (US and Canada) the harvested area for increasing the supply has been decreasing. As a
cereals is 71 million hectares but the production is consequence price must go high enough to cut back
398 MT. They are producing 252 MT more despite on demand otherwise there will not be any wheat
cultivating 20 million hectares less land. So, it has left.
been evident that Africa has a vast potential to From the following table it has been revealed
improve its agricultural production. This discrepancy that there has been no remarkable increase in the
can be measured by checking out the yields per yield rate of wheat, rice, corn, soyabean or sugarcane
hectares of land as shown below in the table. in any part of the world over last 10 years. Agricultural
Table-2 productivity has stagnated internationally, while the
Land Utilisation under Cereals consumption of agricultural products has steadily
increased with the increase of the income levels and
Name of the Area- Million Production
population growth.
Country Hectares (Million Tonnes)
Africa 99 146 Indias average rice yield today is 2.9 tons per
North America 71 398 hectare. By comparison, Chinas average rice yield,
South East Asia 53 199 remained at 6.3 tons per hectare, is more than
Europe 118 404 double that of India. South korea has achieved
World 674 2221 an even higher rice yield i.e. 6.8 tons per hectare.
Agricultural productivity has stagnated after the
Source- FAO
green revolution. What comes concern is that Indias
agricultural productivity is even lower than that of
Yield Rate of Food Grains in Different Countries
(Kg per hectare) many other countries. India has 170 million hectares
under food grain cultivation, producing 220 million
Name of the Rice Wheat
tons of food grains in a year. China has only 60% of
this arable land area but it is able to harvest twice
US 7694 2825
the quantity of food grains that India produces.
China 6265 4455
India 3124 2619 Sixty years after independence India produces
Nigeria 1440 1127 on an average, only 14 kg of rice and wheat per
person per annum, just a little over one kilogram per
person over a month. Over 60% of Indias net shown
China produces 6,265 kg of rice, while Nigeria area still remains at the mercy of the monsoon.
has to make do with just 1440kg and India with About 60% of our farmers own only 0.4 hectares of
3124kg. This is nothing but a division between rich land each. Another 20% of farmers hold an average of
and poor Countries. Cereal yield per hectare is about 1.4 hectares each. Therefore 80% of our farmers are

34 Kurukshetra November 2013
Australia 73.80 82.60 82.60 87.10 94.10 88.80 A slowdown will have a serious effect on Indias
Sugarcane Thiland 71.00 71.00 70.00 61.00 66.90 71.10 economy. Hence, we have no choice but to keep the
China 50.25 49.50 43.50 47.25 50.18 53.33 growth story going, and to keep a check on inflation.
India 67.00 66.00 58.00 63.00 66.90 71.10 The common man spends 50% of his income on food.
Brazil 70.00 71.00 73.00 75.00 66.90 71.10 Therefore, food prices would have to top our long
USA 2.66 2.56 2.28 2.84 2.89 2.87 term approach to combating inflation. These prices
China 1.63 1.73 1.65 1.81 1.70 1.72 have risen as a result of rising population and falling

Argentina 2.63 2.82 2.36 2.71 2.66 2.99 productivity.

Table No:- 4 Yields of Various Crops (Tons\Hect.)

India 0.90 0.71 1.05 0.73 0.90 0.95

Food security remains a global challenge today
Brazil 2.66 2.82 2.37 2.31 2.56 2.85
and famine still threatens several parts of the Globe.
Thiland 2.62 2.57 2.65 2.63 2.70 2.69
There is an urgent need to develop new agricultural
Indonesia 4.41 4.50 4.56 4.64 4.59 4.60
technologies that will increase yields and eliminate

China 6.16 6.19 6.06 6.31 6.26 6.23

crop failures and famines. Many scientists believe

Source:- The Economic Times of India, Dated- 21 July 2008.

India 3.14 2.67 3.13 2.95 3.17 3.18 that new plants developed using modern Bio-
Brazil 3.30 3.25 3.43 3.37 3.86 3.81 technology will play an important role in increasing
South 2.84 2.65 2.94 3.64 3.41 2.52 our ability to produce enough food. Advancement of
Bio-technology is having dramatic impacts on Global

Argentina 6.00 6.33 6.52 7.37 6.48 8.04

agricultural production.
USA 8.67 8.12 8.93 10.06 9.29 9.36
China 4.70 4.92 4.81 5.12 5.29 5.39 Bio-tech crops were planted on over 100
Canada 1.94 1.83 2.26 2.64 2.74 2.61 million hectares in 2006 by 10 million farmers in
Turkey 1.82 1.96 1.95 2.15 2.15 2.03 22 countries and the results have been found well.

USA 2.70 2.36 2.97 2.90 2.82 2.60 In all countries where farmers have access to bio-
China 3.81 3.78 3.93 4.25 4.28 4.55 tech crops, yields are higher and production costs
India 2.71 2.77 2.62 2.71 2.59 2.63 are lower, making farmers more efficient than
ever before. Since 2007, when bio-tech cotton was






introduced Indias cotton output has almost doubled

to 27 million bales weighing 170 kilograms each,
and average yields are up around two-thirds, largely
small and marginal farmers. Nearly 87,000 farmers because of lower rates of pest infestation. Unlike the
in India committed suicide between 2001 and 2005, original Green Revolution which saw large increase
within a span of four years. The per capita availability in use of pesticides and fuel, the new bio-tech crops
of food grains in India has declined from about 500 of the Gene Revolution help reduce the use of
grams per day per person to less than 400 grams per inputs like pesticides, fuel and water. EU economists
day over the last two decades. reported that biotech crops have been responsible
for a decrease in pesticide use of over 200 million
Since the mid 1960s, the traditional agricultural kg which has reduced the environmental impact by
practices are gradually being replaced by modern more than 15%. Fewer pesticide applications mean
technology and farm practices in India and a veritable less use of fuel and water on the farm. In India,
revolution took place in our Country. The new pesticide use in Bt. Cotton has been reduced by half
technology was tried in 1960-61 as pilot project in and this has reduced the use of fuel and water as
seven Districts and was called Intensive Agricultural well as reducing farmer exposure.
District Programme (IADP) and later High Yield verity Agriculture is a contributor of green house
Programme (HYVP) was added and was extended to gas and studies have shown that biotech crops
cover the entire country. This strategy was popularly help decrease these emissions. Scientists estimate
known as Green revolution. Now it is the time that biotech crop planted in 2005 decreased global
to lunch a Gene Revolution instead of Green emission of carbon dioxide by 20 billion pounds. This
Revolution to feed the world and make Indian is the equivalent of removing 4 million cars from
farmers rich. the road for a whole year. These new crops are

Kurukshetra November 2013 35

grown in a more sustainable manner, with less use There is an urgent need for augmenting the
of pesticides, fuel and water and less impact on the physical and economic connectivity of farm
environment. to market, post harvest operations including
the role of food processing industries and
Improvements in agricultural technology are
ultimately enhancing farmers income, rural
a critical component of meeting this challenge and
biotech crops are already making a combination. employment security and inclusiveness. Reform
Insect protected crops and herbicide tolerant crops should be taken up to encourage private sector
allow farmers to achieve high yields even while investment in agriculture.
using fewer pesticides. New drought tolerant (3) Approach Towards Yield Gaps
crops, which will grow and survive even when Low yield areas are to be demarcated and an
rainfall is not optimal, are being developed through analytical measurement should be taken up to
find out the reasons of yield gap and low factor
Many Countries have tackled food scarcity productivity. Local farmers and private money
in the past with the introduction of conventially lenders should come forward and extend their
bread, although gene-altered high yielding crops. cooperation with the government officials
Scaling up the genetic production potential of a crop in conducting various surveys relating to the
through traditional plant breeding technologies is growth of production in the agricultural sector.
a long drawn out process. The problems plaguing (4) Creation of Advanced Laboratories at National
Indian agriculture call for quick solutions that only
molecular breeding can bring about.
A national network of advanced soil testing
Measures to eradicate food crisis laboratories should be established to promote
(1) Development of a strong Agricultural balanced nutrient application and advise the
Infrastructure base micro nutrient deficiencies. Farmers should
Now there is an urgent need to develop be necessary to ensure timely availability
agricultural infrastructure to meet the rising of quality seeds and agro chemicals to the
demand in India for food grains and other farmers at the time of their need. Each farmer
Agri- products. Setting up storage facilities to should be issued soil and water health cards.
processing facilities for our farm products is Just like carbon credits, the farmers should
one big issue that needs to be tackled by the be given credit on the basis of the water used
policy makers in the country. Public goods, by him for the production purpose. Special
infrastructure, welfare imperatives other emphasis and training should be given to the
regulatory needs and areas of market failure small and marginal farmers for the adoption of
will continue to need government intervention. dry land farming in the country. Bio-diversity
Now it is a matter of concern that Globally the conservation and creation of livestock heritage
investment in the agricultural sector is shrinking. on farm Gene banks should become an integral
Building of rural roads, rural telecom and rural part of development programmes.
electrification need to be accelerated and (5) Organise Farmers into Bodies
coordinated. Farm subsidy amounts to about
Rs. 1 l lac crore. The sector can be better off Individual farmer has no bargaining power to
if this were to be spent as investment towards sell the farm produce at the reasonable price.
the development of infrastructure towards Companies or Co-operatives are capable of
agricultural sector. leveraging the opportunities afforded by the
market. It is essential to encourage initiatives
(2) Restructuring the Agricultural sector
taken by ITCs E-Choupal and DCM Shrirams
Now it is the time for re-establishing a trained Haryali stores that offer farmers a host of inputs
and dedicated cadre of agricultural extension ranging from seed, fertiliser, tractor parts and
workers. It is also necessary for strengthening disel for pump sets to agronomic advice and
of agricultural research and technology soil testing post harvest infrastructure should
development and institutional support system. be modernised.

36 Kurukshetra November 2013
(6) Institutional Support food on part of the poor. The MSP must be fixed
The flow of credit, particularly to small and for all major commodities and implemented
marginal farmers should be made speedier and judiciously throughout the country.
hassle free. Whether based insurance products Conclusion
should be promoted to increase the coverage
which is now at a nascent stage. SHGs (Self Help Todays paramount need is to improve
Groups) should play more pro active role in the agricultural productivity across the Globe. Crop
process. In public distribution system through yields can be increased through the introduction
SHGs micro credit should be opened to have an of technologies such as drip irrigation or through
easy product delivery system. education and training of farmers. If Countries like
(7) Implementation of MSP in a massive scale India and China, which have large agricultural land,
can boost their productivity to the levels attained
In India, the farmer sells his produce for about by the developed world, it will no doubt mitigate
one third the price the consumer pays. To food scarcity. From the first Green Revolution
increase the benefit of rising food prices to to the current Gene Revolution, innovative new
the farmer and to minimise the cost to the technologies have significantly improved our ability
consumer, this huge margin between the farm to feed our people. Farmers in India and around
and the consumer prices must shrink. For the the world, who have pioneered the use of modern
removal of the gap the first step is to abolish biotechnology have seen their innovation rewarded
the Mandi tax. Next step is to allow direct in term of high production and lower environmental
sourcing of farm produce by agribusinesses impacts. Further innovations like bio-fuels and
and organised retail and reduce several rounds drought tolerant crops will further contribute to
of transportation and loading and unloading sustainable production efficiencies.
costs etc. Appropriate policy interventions are
needed to transfer the benefits of the rise to [The author is Reader, Faculty of Commerce,
the farmers and at the same time to strengthen Banaras Hindu University,Varanasi- 221005 (U.P)
social safety programmes to assure access to email: bk_mooohanty@yahoo.co.in]

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Kurukshetra November 2013 37

Water Management and Food Security
Dasharath Prasad and Rakesh Kumar

ndia is an agrarian economy. Majority of our natural resources. While the significance of natural
population live in villages. Since independence, resources like water was felt as an important input,
considerable efforts were made towards ensuring its availability in adequate quantity and
attaining food security, to meet the ever-increasing good quality has been ignored by mismanagement.
demand of food for the ever-growing population, Indiscriminate exploitation of water resources and
and there has been a remarkable improvement. the inadequate protection measures have led to
Undoubtedly, the Green Revolution technologies water depletion and deterioration at an alarming
of the 1960s addressed this challenge, promoted rate.
the production and distribution of seeds of high- In 201011, India achieved a target of 235.88
yielding varieties, and successfully increased crop million tonnes food-grain production, registering
production. Since mid 1990s, there has been some an increase of 364% during 195051 to 201011
slackening in the growth rate of food production (Fig. 1). This parallel trend of food-grain production
and in the last ten years it has been below the and area under irrigation illustrate that the resource
targeted rate of 4%. With the population growth which has contributed the most to increase the
rate continuing at the current rate, the food food-grain production is irrigation water. This
security concerns in the country can become really justifies the role played by water to make India
serious in 2020-30 unless there is commensurate self-sufficient in food-grain production. The net
increase in food production. shown area increased marginally from 133.20 m ha
Food security in the FAO terminology has been in 196061 to 139.85 m ha in 200607.
defined as follows: Food security exists when all In the last 60 years, significant developments in
people, at all times have physical and economic water resources and in agriculture have been noticed
access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet in India. In India, canal water and groundwater are
their dietary needs and food preferences for an the major sources of irrigation. During the last 23
active and healthy life. Now, ensuring food security decades, there has been practically no scope to
for the fast-growing population is a major challenge, further increase the canal water-irrigated area, and
which ultimately exerts pressure on the available in the last 10 years or so, there has been a declining

38 Kurukshetra November 2013
Clearly illustrates ( Fig. 3) that water utilization
for agricultural purposes in India is above the
international usage trend, which was 87% in 1990
and 85% in 2000. For application of water as
input, flood irrigation has predominantly been the
adopted practice throughout the country.
Currently, India is the largest groundwater
user in the world and millions of private tube
wells have been constructed. Such phenomenal
growth has been the reason for exploitation of
groundwater in the previous decades. The over
Fig. 1. All-India production of food grains and % area
under irrigation.
exploitation of groundwater and the existing vast
canal network, however, led to water- logging and
(Source: Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, soil salinity in many parts of the country. There
200809 and 2010-11) are many reasons for high water usage, such as
zero or negligible tariffs on farm power in some
states of India; no additional costs for extracting
extra water; inadequate canal water; cultivation
of crops with high water requirement (e.g. rice
and sugarcane), and assured markets.
In India, the annual replenishable groundwater
resource is 433 billion cubic metre (bcm) and net
annual groundwater availability is 399 bcm. The
overall contribution of rainfall to the countrys
annual replenishable groundwater resource is 67%,
and the share of other sources, including canal
seepage, return flow from irrigation, seepage from
Fig. 2. Irrigation trend by canals and groundwater. water bodies and water conservation structures
taken together is 33%. The available groundwater
(Source: Ministry of Agriculture, GOI, 200607)
resource for irrigation is 361 bcm, 90% of which is
trend in the canal water-irrigated area (Fig. 2). utilizable quantity. A rapid growth in the number
of bore wells since 1980 has led to unplanned
The contribution from groundwater to the
abstraction of groundwater and a steady decline in
total irrigation area has increased substantially from
the water table, resulting in a large increase in
5,978,000 ha (29%) in 195051 to 35,372,000 ha
the cost of pumping a given volume of water.
(59%) in 200506. An abrupt rise in groundwater
utilization is observed since 1980, which has Accordingly, the irrigation sector was assigned a
doubled in 25 years. Groundwater irrigation, high priority in the Five-year plans. It is projected that
which expanded rapidly in the last few decades, by 2030, demand of food grains in India will grow to
forms a major part of the water withdrawals in almost 1.5 trillion m3. Against this demand, Indias
many river basins. At present, more than 60% of current water supply is approximately 740 billion m3.
the total irrigated area is ground water-irrigated. As a result, most of Indias river basins could face severe
Nevertheless, during the last 10 years or so, even water deficit by 2030 unless concerted action is taken,
the groundwater-irrigated area shows relatively with some of the most populous basins, including the
slower growth rate compared to the exponential Ganga, Krishna, and the Indian portion of the Indus
expanding situation from 1950 to 2000. This may facing the biggest absolute gap. Moreover, aquifers
be due to possibly declining groundwater levels are depleting in the most populated and economically
induced by indiscriminate withdrawal, thereby productive areas. Overall, up to a quarter of Indias
increasing the cost of pumping, and also due to harvest has been estimated to be at risk due to
pollution of groundwater in many areas. groundwater depletion.

Kurukshetra November 2013 39

Table 1. Annual water use/requirement of India be ensured in terms of water availability. Therefore,
to develop planting strategies and selection of
Use of water (bcm) 1990 2000 2010 2030
cropping pattern, systematic integration of time
Agriculture 437 541 688 1198 distribution of water requirements for various
% Use 87 85 85 80 crops and various planting dates with water supply
Total 502 634 813 1498 according to availability of water is of paramount
importance. This will minimize the adverse impacts
(Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme
Implementation, GOI, 2002 and Water Resources Group, of water scarcity on potential water-consuming
McKinsey and Company, 2009) crops.
With the increase in population and per capita The availability of water is determined by
income, the total demand of food grains is showing water accessibility and utilizability in terms of
an uptrend, causing an imbalance in demand and quantity and quality. Enhancement in water
supply. This clearly indicates that in the coming availability and safe water supply is guided by the
years more food grains need to be produced policies, plans and technologies at our disposal,
to fulfill the requirement of the population. The in addition to political, socio-economic, biological
data also suggest that from 2021 onwards India and other factors. For an effective, efficient and
may find it difficult to produce the required food sustainable groundwater resources development
to feed the people under limited or scarce water- and management, the future challenges are to
availability conditions. assess the inextricable logical linkages between
water policies and ethical consideration.
In some parts of India, the government provides
electricity to farmers at a reasonable cost to enable All development plans should be based on
agricultural use. This low-cost irrigation encourages strict implementation of strategies for conservation
the users to draw more water, resulting in lowering of water, increasing irrigation efficiencies,
of groundwater and reducing the productivity of the minimizing the wastage of water, prevention
wells. The groundwater level in many watersheds of water pollution, more efficient protection of
is declining due to unregulated over-exploitation water quality, and restoration of landscapes and
even when the recharge conditions are good. ecological systems.
Uttar Pradesh, a part of the Indo- Gangetic Groundwater recharge should be estimated
Plains having extensive agriculture, where majority by reliable and accurate improved methods and
of the farmers hold > 2 ha of land holding, the revised time to time, and the exploitation of
number of diesel pump sets in 197980 was groundwater resources should be regulated so that
581,998, which increased to 2,965,357 in 1998 it remains in commensurate with the recharge.
99, a four-fold increase. From this trend, one can Rational pricing of groundwater, energy irrigation
estimate the number of diesel pump sets now, i.e. nexus and discouraging government support for
12 years later. The increased use of diesel pumps the installation of tube wells and subsidies on
to run these sets would definitely be costing more electricity supplied to farmers could be the possible
under the depleting water-level conditions. One of policies for groundwater withdrawal management.
the estimates of the Ministry of Water Resources, While such policy changes are likely to reduce
GOI under the Fresh Water Year 2003 project, is excessive and injudicious use of groundwater, it
that in alluvium areas, energy saving for 1 m rise may have different impacts on different sections of
in groundwater level is around 0.40 kW/h or vice the society in different regions.
versa. Hence, if this is the case in only one state of [Dasharath Prasad is Assistant Professor
India, one can imagine the rise in cost of the food (Agronomy) Agricultural Research Station
items or energy requirement for proper irrigation (SKRAU) Sri Ganganagar 335001 (Raj) and and
of the food crops. Rakesh Kumar, is Assistant Professor (Department
In India, since the rural population density is of Soil Science & Agricultural Chemistry) at Bihar
large and most of the agricultural holdings are small Agricultural University Sabour, Bhagalpur (Bihar)
(< 2 ha) and highly fragmented, social equity must email-dashrath.sagar@gmail.com]

40 Kurukshetra November 2013
Vegetable based Agripreneureship
for livelihood security
Shubhadeep Roy, Yerasu Suresh Reddy and Vanitha, S. M.

f someone asks a farmer today, that would you Growing traditional crops like cereals, pulses
like your child to become a farmer then in most in small land holdings which is prevailing in our
of the cases the answer will be obliviously NO. country is not economically viable, because after
This is because, agriculture is known for its gamble meeting the family consumption needs farmers
with climate and market prices, less remunerative, are hardly left over with marketable surplus of
and leading to low social recognition. Resource the produce. It could not be sufficient to meet
flowing into the agricultural sector is declining and other family requirements and many a times it
indebtedness of small and marginal farm families leads to indebtedness of the farm families. Now,
is steeply rising. Input costs are increasing while the question on how a farmer can make sufficient
factors of productivity are declining. The cost-risk- money with his small piece of land and available
return structure of farming is becoming adverse, resources to meet his family requirements.
to over 80 million farming families operating small Farmers have to strategically choose crops which
holding (NCF, Vth Report, 2006). Average land have more market value and seasonal demand, to
holding of the country is shrinking day by day as earn remuneration round the year.
61.58% of total land holding belongs to marginal
category (Land below 1.0 ha), 18.73% holding In India, urbanization is taking place at a rapid
belongs to small category (1.0-2.0 ha) and such land rate. Urban population and number of towns are
holdings can only support subsistence agriculture increasing at galloping speed over the years. Due
and nothing else until and unless there is an apt to increased purchasing power and awareness
planning, positive will power of the individual about health benefits of high-value commodities
peasant with support of modern technology and (such as products of horticulture, dairy, livestock
guiding principle. and fish), over the time food habit of urban

Kurukshetra November 2013 41

people has changed. People now prefer to have Vegetables are highly perishable and have
high-value commodities in their daily diet. Of late, many post harvest losses. To overcome this, they
due to welfare policies (eg.. MNAREGA, Mid-day may require different infrastructure for handling,
meals scheme, Annapoorna Anthya Yojana, now value-addition, processing and marketing. This
Food security bill on cards) of Government of helps in augmenting farm incomes, generating
India economic condition of poor in rural India employment and in bringing a number of additional
is improving and at the same time they have to stakeholders in the food-supply chain. So, going
spend less on food grains. This situation gives for vegetable production has an upbeat scope
more scope for rural poor to include high value especially in peri-urban villages due to their easy
commodities in their diet. access to ever increasing markets and expanding
urban population.
Overall, in future the demand for food and
processed commodities is going to increase due to India is a leading vegetable producing country
growing population and rising per capita income. in the world. Looking at the vegetable scenario of
According to projections (Vision 2030, ICAR, New the country, presently it occupies 8.49 millions
Delhi, 2011), the demand for food grains would hectare area with an annual production of 146.55
increase from 192 million tonnes in 2000 to 345 million tones. The country being blessed with
million tonnes in 2030. To meet this, the production the unique gift of nature of diverse climate and
of food grains needs to be increased at the rate of distinct seasons makes it possible to grow an array
5.5 million tonnes annually. On the other hand, the of vegetables throughout the year.
demand for high-value commodities is increasing Potato being the staple food and easy to
faster than food grains. For most of the high-value mix in several preparation ranks first (28.9%) in
food commodities, demand is expected to increase total production of vegetables followed by other
by more than 100% from 2000 to 2030. important solanaceous vegetables, like tomato
Among high value commodities, going for (11.3%) and brinjal (8.1%). Onion is also one of the
vegetable production and vegetable entrepreneurship important vegetables, occupying significant share
is the best option for small and marginal farmers as (10.3%) in vegetable production. Cauliflower and
it requires relatively less investment then others. cabbage are most preferred winter vegetables
Other merits of vegetables production includes that and their total share in the countrys vegetable
production is 4.6 and 5.4 percent, respectively.
on an average, the yield-of vegetable crop is about 5
Other important vegetables primarily grown in the
to 10 times more than that of cereals, they are quick
country are okra, vegetable peas and cucurbits.
growing and shorter duration so provides for intensive
In last one decade, there has been considerable
and multiple vegetable cropping leading to better
progress in enhancing the productivity of
utilization of resources, year round employment and
vegetables, which is presently 17.3 tonnes
revenue generation.
per hectare. India has
potential to become one
of the largest vegetable
exporters in the world
due to its agro-climatic
diversity. For this dream to
come true there should be
technology upgradation,
quality management,
firm adherence to export
commitments and
acquisition of appropriate
negotiation skills. There
is an upbeat business
(From Vision 2030, ICAR, New Delhi, 2011) opportunity in the area

42 Kurukshetra November 2013
Production share (%) of major vegetable have knowledge about specified isolation
crops in India distances for individual crops, details about
sowing and transplanting time, seed rate,
planting distance and fertilizers doses. He or
his fellow employee should be aware about
the skill of rouging of seed crop throughout
the crop period.
3. Strategic fit and priority: The business
venture should fit well within the existing
product line, technology, marketing set up,
production system, facilities and resources of
the entrepreneur. The availability of quality
seed is of utmost importance for increasing
(Indian Horticulture Database, 2011) the vegetable production. Vegetable growers
recognize quality seed of improved varieties
of seed production, storage and processing for as the most strategic resources for higher and
vegetable crops. Similarly, opportunities in the better vegetable yields.
area of post harvest processing would increase
manifold in near future. Business opportunities 4. Risk factor: The degree of risk has to be
in these areas are going to be increased manifold assessed beforehand. Regarding vegetable
in near future (Vision 2030, IIVR, Varanasi, 2011) seed production, the risk may be of admixture
and there lies the opportunity to establish in the pure line or crop failure cue to abiotic
entrepreneurship in vegetable crops and uplift and biotic factors may be disease pest
the subsistence farmers to sustainable and infestation.
economically viable agro- businessman. The farmer 5. Profitability and cost-benefit: Profitability is
interested to enter into agri-business must go for a matter of perception or prior knowledge of
product identification first and SWOT (Strength, the entrepreneur based on their experience,
Weakness, Opportunity and Threat) analysis of observation or feedback from the others. The
his venture. The issues, which have to be kept in entrepreneur has to analyze the benefits of
mind, while doing SWOT analysis of the identified his enterprise in forms of profitability, risk
product venture are: investment requirement and availability
of inputs. The enterprise should provide
1. Availability of market: If there is no sufficient benefits to the community either
assurance of an adequate market, there is no through employment generation, backward
scene of venturing into the business. There and forward linkages with other industries or
is huge demand of pure vegetable seeds in through economic activities, and availability
the market. It is reported several times that of needed product and services.
the vegetable seeds available in the market
are spurious, farmers dont get uniform Conclusion
germination and fruits are also not uniform.
Moreover, seeds are very costly. Venturing Based on resources in the hand, market prices
into seed production industry, may pave good of input and out put, requirements of society etc.,
business scope as there is huge demand of farmers have to practice farm business astutely.
quality vegetable seed in the market. There is a great need to make our farmers
2. Availability of technology and skill: For entrepreneurial as entrepreneurs are not borne
running the vegetable seed production but can be made through systematic process and
industry, the entrepreneur should have by providing sufficient infrastructure (both social
the knowledge about its production and physical) to take a shift from subsistence
technology. The method of cultivation for agriculture to commercial agri-business.
seed production is nearly the same as that of [The authors are from the Indian Institute
cultivation of vegetable. However, he should of Vegetable Research, Varanasi]

Kurukshetra November 2013 43

Zinc vital to crop production and productivity
Yashbir Singh Shivay

Z inc has emerged as the most important

micronutrient deficient in soils of several
countries of the world. About 50% soil samples
analyzed for available Zn were found deficient in
is essential for the stability of cytoplasmic ribosomes
and root cell plasma membrane, catalyses the process
of oxidation, is concerned with synthesis of protein
and indole-acetic acid and the transformation of
25 countries including India. A good response to Zn carbohydrates. Zn can affect carbohydrate metabolism
application has been reported for several crops from at various levels. The activity of Zn-containing enzyme
all over India. The factors responsible for increase of carbonic anhydrase sharply declines with Zn deficiency
incidences of Zn deficiency include large Zn removals and in extreme Zn deficiency net photosynthesis is
due to high crop yields and intensive cropping inhibited, presumably due to chloroplast structure
systems, lesser application of organic manures, use of and inhibited photosynthetic electron transfer. Several
high analysis fertilizers such as urea and DAP in place other enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism
of ammonium sulphate and single superphosphate, are Zn dependent and inhibited by Zn deficiency. Zn
increased use of phosphate fertilizers resulting in containing enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) plays
P-induced Zn deficiency and the use of poor quality an important role in anaerobic root respiration in rice
irrigation without adequate drainage. The availability and the process is impaired under Zn deficiency.
of Zn in soils is influenced by pH and CaCO3 content, Zn deficiency inhibits protein synthesis mainly by a
clay minerals, oxide minerals, organic C, soil moisture, marked decrease in RNA. Zn containing isoenzyme SOD
amounts of Zn applied and weather. (Cu-Zn-SOD) plays an important role in the detoxification
Functions of Zn in plants of superoxide radicals and thus protects membrane
lipids and proteins against oxidation. Accumulation
The essentiality of Zn for higher plants was of tryptophan is reported to be an expression of an
demonstrated by Somner and Lipman in 1926. Zinc is inhibited protein synthesis under Zn deficiency. Zn
involved in diverse enzymatic activities such as auxin deficiency leads to lower concentration of IAA as well
metabolism, dehydrogenases, phosphodiesterase as impaired GA metabolism. Many enzymes contain
and the promotion of synthesis of cytochrome C. Zn tightly bound Zn essential for their function. Considering

44 Kurukshetra November 2013
all organisms, more than 80 such enzymes are known, lesser browning. In peas Zn deficiency is manifested in
however, only a few are known in higher plants. malformed leaves or little leaf and is known as rosette
formation. Zn deficiency is also reported in soybean,
Deficiency symptoms cowpea and other legumes.
Zinc deficiency in citrus and corn has been known Critical (concentration) limits
in USA for quite some time in the past and these crop
plants are referred to as marker plants for Zn deficiency. Lower critical concentration (LCC) in plant tissue
In maize the Zn deficiency is known as white bud due at which it shows the deficiency symptoms depends
to shorter yellowish to white top leaves. In India, Nene not only on crop and its cultivars but also on the plant
(1966) was the first to report Zn deficiency in rice at G.B. part and age of the crop. It is generally agreed that Zn
Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar. deficiency in plants occurs when the Zn concentration is
The symptoms of Zn in rice were brown spots in the top 20 mg kg-1 of plant tissue (ppm) or less. Lower critical
leaves to begin with followed by almost complete rust limits (LCC) for some crops are given in Table 1.
browning of leaves. Because of this rust brown colour In rice Yoshida et al. (1973) gave the following
the disease was named as khaira (Katha or Catechu criteria for diagonizing Zn deficiency in rice:
used as an ingredient in pan or betel leaves popularly
chewed in India and Pakistan). Since then there has Zn (mg kg-1 DM) in whole shoot Diagnosis
been considerable research in India on Zn and other
<10 Definite deficiency
micronutrients under the All India Coordinated Project
on Micronutrients of the Indian Council of Agricultural 10-15 Very likely deficiency
Research with the head quarter at the Indian Institute 15.1-20 Likely deficiency
of Soil Science, Bhopal. Zn being a less mobile nutrient, > 20 No deficiency
most of the deficiency symptoms are in young leaves
at the growing point. Physiologically, Zn deficiency can Zn being a micronutrient its excess uptake
adversely affect the leaf chlorophyll content, stomatal results in phytotoxicity which not only results in
conductance and net photosynthesis. Because of this reduction in crop yield and quality but may also
in some cases the Zn deficiency symptoms in some lead to accumulation in food chain and this may
crops such as maize may be confused with Fe deficiency impair human and animal health. Zn phytotoxicity
which also produces yellowing or whitening of leaves. In symptoms are similar to Fe chlorosis. For field crops,
wheat the symptoms are similar to those in rice but with in general, a normal range of 27 to 150 mg kg-1 DM

Table 3. Lower critical limits (LCC) of Zn in plant tissue below which Zn deficiency is likely to occur

Crop Tissue Critical limit Reference

(mg kg-1 DM)
Field crops
Rice Whose shoot 20 Yoshida et al. (1973)
Leaf 20 Singh and Singh (2005)
Shoot 10 Singh and Singh (2005)
Wheat Leaves 8-12 Takkar et al. (1997)
Maize Ear leaf at tasselling 20 Lukas (1967)
Soybean Top fully open leaves leaf 20 Lucas (1967)
blade No. 5 21 Okhi (1977)
Vegetables Top fully open leaves 20 Lucas (1967)
Chickpea Whole shoot 20-21 Khan et al. (1998)
Subterranean clover Youngest open leaf blade 18 Legett and Westermann (1986)
Cowpea Upper leaves 20 Marsh and Ewalters (1985)
Fruit crops
Avocado Leaf tissue 20 Crowley et al. (1996)
Pecan Leaf 14 Hu and Sparks (1991)

Kurukshetra November 2013 45

in mature leaf tissue is reported, while in general and subterranean clover. In India Zn deficiency in
a value of leaf Zn concentration above 100 mg kg-1 maize manifests itself on a cloudy day (authors
DM is considered the upper critical limit (UCL). observations).
Once leaf Zn exceeds 400 mg kg-1 DM, toxicity of Zn
is to be expected. Tissue Zn concentration (mg kg-1 Interactions of Zinc with other Plant Nutrients
DM) for plants showing visual toxicity symptoms Availability of Zn in soils and its absorption and
were: cotton and orange 200; tomato 526 and oats translocations in plants is influenced by almost all
1,700. In pot experiments, Zn concentration of 792 other plant nutrients.
mg kg-1 DM in maize, 523 mg kg-1 DM in lettuce
and 702 mg kg-1 DM in alfalfa were associated with (a) Primary nutrients
yield depressions. Chino (1981) suggested the toxic
Zinc interacts positively with N and P and
Zn levels for rice tops as 100-300 mg kg-1 DM and
negatively with P. Synergistic effects of Zn x N
for rice roots as 500 to 1,000 mg kg-1 DM. Thus the
interaction, are mainly attributed to increased
upper critical limit (UCL) for Zn varies considerably
availability of Zn in soils due to acid forming effect
in crops and will depend upon the crop, cultivar
and the concentration of other nutrients in plant of N, while positive Zn x K interaction is attributed
tissue. to the role of K in Zn translocation in plants. On the
other hand Zn in general interacts negatively with P,
It may also be pointed out that while the major which depends upon a number of physico-chemical
effort in breeding cereal varieties is for developing properties of soil. Antagonistic Zn x P interaction has
those that can produce grain with least amount of been subject of intensive research in several countries
Zn in soil, some effort is being made to produce crop and has been thoroughly reviewed, although some
varieties that can absorb more Zn from the soil so Zn x P synergistic interactions are also reported.
that the nutritional demands of Zn of humans are
met from the cereal grains, which are the staple food When large amounts of P are applied close to
in many developing countries specialty in Asia. the seed and soil Zn levels are low, Zn deficiency in
plants is exhibited. Yield reductions or poor growth
Effect of weather conditions of plants in maize due to heavy P fertilization has
(i) Temperature been reported from USA. From India Takkar et al.
(1989) indicated that increasing levels of P beyond
Considerable literature exists from USA and 44 kg ha-1 in growth medium significantly decreased
Australia to show that Zn deficiency manifests under the grain yield of maize.
low temperatures in corn, linseed, beans and potato
etc. This could be due to reduced root growth as well Reductions in crop yields due to high P
as due to lowered absorption and translocation of Zn fertilization have been attributed to high P:Zn
in plants. Hayman (1974) pointed out that reduced ratio although reports are available where
mycorrhizal growth that helps in Zn absorption could depressed Zn concentrations associated with high P
also be a factor responsible for expression of Zn concentrations in plant tissue were not associated
deficiency. with a decrease in yield. One of the apparent causes
for decrease in Zn concentration in plant tissue
(ii) Soil moisture
due to P fertilization is simply dilution caused by
Under dryland conditions reduced moisture increased plant growth. Excess Zn application can
content in the surface layer may reduce Zn absorption also reduce P concentration in plants. Welch et al.
and cause Zn-deficiency. Zn-deficiency in rice may (1982) showed that Zn deficient wheat roots have
be accentuated by flooding due to increased soil increased permeability for phosphate and chloride.
pH that reduces Zn availability, increased Fe++ and There are some reports indicating P reduced
Mn++ concentration that suppress Zn uptake and imbition of Zn into the roots or interference with
increased HCO3 concentration that detrimentally translocation of Zn from roots to metabolic sites in
affects translocation of Zn in plant. the leaves. Loneragan and Webb (1993) showed that
(iii) Light when plants are supplied with high P and low Zn,
they accumulate high P in their leaves, precipitating
Reduced light intensity is reported to Zn and therefore increasing plants internal need of
increase the severity of Zn-deficiency in corn P. The enhancement of P uptake and translocation

46 Kurukshetra November 2013
is specific for Zn deficiency and does not occur in c) Micronutrients
plants deficient in Fe, Mn or Cu.
Most available reports show negative interaction
Mycorrhizas associated with roots are believed of Zn with Fe, Mn, Cu and Mo. As regards B, it is reported
to enhance the uptake of Zn and since high P values that Zn application created a protective mechanism
reduce VA mycorrhizal development this may affect in root cell micro-environment against excessive B
Zn uptake. uptake.

As regards P-Zn precipitation reaction in soil Sources and Methods of Zn Application

the solubility diagrams show that Zn3 (PO4)2.4H2O is
Sources of Zn
much more soluble than soil Zn. As a matter of fact
zinc phosphate compared well with zinc sulphate There are four classes of Zn sources: inorganic,
as a source of Zn. In a study by Takkar et al. (1976) synthetic chelates, natural organic complexes and
addition of P even beyond 200 kg P2O5 ha-1 only slightly inorganic complexes. The inorganic sources are sulphate,
influenced extractable Zn. Thus addition of P to soils chloride, carbonate and oxides of Zn (Table 2).
does not generally decrease Zn extractable by water,
Of these sulphate is the most widely used
0.1 NHCl or dithiozone. Norvell et al. (1987) reported source of Zn. Of the two sulphates zinc sulphate
that addition of P caused a significant decrease in the heptahydrate (ZnSO4.7H2O) is most widely marketed
Zn concentration only in calcareous soil; this is in line and used Zn fertilizer in India. Of late ZnO is receiving
with the spread of Zn deficiency in such soils. Thus, some attention because of its high Zn content 50-80%
reduced Zn availability in soils due to the formation as compared to 21% in ZnSO4.7H2O and especially
of Zn-P precipitate does not seem valid. in the context of making Zn coated (zincated) urea.
Increased Zn sorption into soils due to Spent zinc oxide (ZnS) as a by-product of fertilizer
increased negative surface charge with P reducing its industry has only recently been brought to the scene.
Of the synthetic chelates, Zn-EDTA is the material
bioavailability to plants has also been reported.
that is widely used in India and abroad. A number
It may be summarized that P induced Zn of studies have been made to compare the relative
deficiency in plants can be due to several mechanisms, efficiency of different sources of Zn for several crops
some of which are: and while some researchers reported that water
1. Increased negative surface charge on soil due soluble zinc sulphate was superior for rice and wheat
to P fertilization leading to increased retention in other studies no significant differences were
of P. observed between different sources of Zn. Most
of these studies were made on alkaline Entisols,
2. P-Zn interaction in the soil either on soil-root Aridisols and Vertisols. Some studies also showed
interface or on adsorption sites. that relatively less soluble Zn fertilizers such as ZnO
3. Dilution effect on Zn concentration in plant or Zn-frits gave higher residual effects on succeeding
tissue due to growth response to P. crops and recorded higher levels of available Zn. Zinc
4. Reduced translocations of Zn. frits although inferior to zinc sulphate and zinc oxide
for barley maintained labile Zn in the soil for a much
5. Precipitation of sparingly soluble Zn-phosphates longer period. The only reference to zincated urea is
in stems and leaf tissue (physiological that of Deb et al. (1986, 1997), who reported that it
inactivation of Zn). was superior to zinc sulphate A number of studies in
6. Impact of P on mycorrhizal infection of roots. USA have reported 3 or more times higher efficiency of
Zn-EDTA over zinc sulphate. In India in a pot study Zn-
b) Secondary nutrients EDTA gave the highest yield followed by zinc sulphate
and ZnO. In one field study in north-western India Zn-
Zn interacts antagonistically with all the 3
EDTA was found to be nearly 3 times more effective
secondary plant nutrients. Higher concentrations of
than zinc sulphate but it was not economical due to
Ca and Mg inhibited absorption and translocation high costs. Zn-EDTA is several times more expensive
of Zn in maize, citrus, rice and sunflower. Similarly S than zinc sulphate.
and Zn interacted negatively in wheat, chickpea and
sunflower. However, positive interaction of S and Zn Appropriate balanced combination of zinc
is also reported in rice, wheat and mustard. sulphate with urea is likely to become more popular

Kurukshetra November 2013 47

Table 2. Zn content of some Zn fertilizers

Fertilizer Chemical formula % Zn (g kg-1 or kg t-1)

Zinc sulphate
monohydrate ZnSO4.H2O 33.01/ (330)
heptahedra ZnSO4.7H2O 21.01/ (210)
Zinc oxide ZnO 50-80(500-800)
Zinc chloride ZnCl2 48-50 (480-500)
Zinc carbonate ZnCO3 52-56(520-560)
Zinc frits 10-30(100-300)
Zinc chelates Na2ZnEDTA 121/ (120)
Zinc lignosulphate - (5-8) (50-80)
Zinc polyflavonoid - (5-10) (50-100)
Zincated urea - (2 , 12/,0.5) (20, 10, 5)

Spent zinc oxide ZnS (60-66)3/ (600-660)

& (30-32S) (300-320S)
Source: 1/FCO, Govt. of India; 2/Other grades now available (5-10 g kg-1)
Kishore et al. (118); Others: Rattan et al. (195)

in future because of convenience of application and over soil application in other studies soil application
guarantee of quality due to its coming directly from was found better than foliar application. Generally 6 kg
major fertilizer producers. zinc sulphate applied foliar equals to about 25 kg zinc
sulphate applied through soil, but the soil application
Zinc lignosulfonates and zinc polyflavonoids are
has advantage of building up soil Zn level and giving
the wood by-products of the paper industry and have
residual effects to the succeeding crops, while the
not been tested in India so far.
continued foliar application results in mining of native
In addition to the specific Zn fertilizers just soil Zn and over years it may make them Zn deficient.
discussed the organic manures and chemical fertilizers
used for supplying NPK especially rock phosphate Katyal et al. (2004) based on the review of several
derived ones and bone meal contain fairly good studies under diverse conditions pointed out that the
amounts of Zn. The problem of Zn deficiency emerged relative efficiency of Zn sources could vary with the
in rice-wheat belt of north-western India because of method of application. They observed that with soluble
shifting from superphosphate to DAP, disuse of organic fertilizers such as zinc sulphate band placement was
manures and of course depletion of native soil Zn due generally superior to broadcast application, while for
to high crop harvests season after season and year after less soluble fertilizers such as ZnO and Zn frits broadcast
year (10-14 tonnes ha-1yr-1). application was better. They also pointed out that the
differences between soluble and less soluble fertilizers
Methods of Zn application disappeared when broadcast on wet puddle as in rice
Methods of Zn application to crops include soil production. These views were corroborated by other
application (broadcast or band placement), foliar workers also.
application, dusting seeds with Zn powder or soaking Other modes of applications such as soaking
them in Zn solution, swabbing foliage with Zn paste or seeds in Zn solution, dipping roots of rice seedlings in
solution, dipping roots of seedlings of transplanted crops Zn suspension and raising of Zn enriched nursery have
in Zn solution or suspension and inserting galvanized also been evaluated with variable results and despite
mails or pieces of metallic Zn into tree trunks. However, favourable economics have not gained popularity.
in India mostly soils vs. foliar application have been
compared. Although in some studies when a number [The author is Principal Scientist, Division of
of sprays were made, foliar applications were equally Agronomy, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New
effective as soil application or did show some advantage Delhi 110 012, email: ysshivay@hotmail.com]

48 Kurukshetra November 2013