Food Scarcity & Security in India

According to a report released by the United Nations in May this year, India’s economy was said to grow at an estimated rate of 7.3%. Approximately 60.6% of India’s land is agricultural in nature and over 95 million hectors of it can be termed operational. Our economic progress has not been met with simultaneous progress in food security. Even today, over 50% of India’s children under the age of five are malnourished. We have one of the highest rates of food wastage in the world. In 2012 we were ranked 66th in the Global Hunger Index complied by IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute).

Food security can be defined as existing when, “All people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” The problem of food security in India is multi-faceted. We not only have the ability and means to produce enough for our population for the given year and next, but we also have enough to export. Our problems begin with poor policies and badly aimed subsidies. Investments that focus on improving agricultural productivity are poor across the country, and government initiatives are short sighted and often inadequate. Most places lack storage facilities. Granaries cannot hold production for the year and tend to be in deplorable conditions. Bad road and transport systems make it difficult for cultivators to move excess crop within the country and therefore tend to favour export. This further adds to our scarcity. Lastly, 70% of land being cultivated in India depends on rain. Climate change in the recent years has caused changes in monsoon patterns, making it practically impossible for farmers to rely on.

Many countries, most recently China, have started adopting methods to improve crop production through the use of genetically modified seeds. These seeds produce larger yields and are more resilient to pests and erratic weather. However, the root of the problem is still not being addressed. A solution cannot come from better seeds but should come from adopting better methods of cultivation and preservation of food. We need to focus on creating a stronger trade network within the country, spend more money on developing sustainable methods for irrigation and cultivation and most importantly we need to invest time and money into educating those that are responsible. Majority of our farmers are losing not because they don’t get a good crop but because they don’t know what to do with it. Genetically Modified Crops can never be a permanent solution to food security, we need to find more feasible and sustainable solutions that will bring long term benefits to both the people and the planet.

References:

  1. How much Land is actually cultivated in India? By Roshan Kishore & Dipti Jain, 30th December, 2015. livemint.com. http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/mB8wmI2ZaVjFCX6K3iFfZJ/How-much-land-is-actually-cultivated-in-India.html
  2. World Percentage of Agricultural Land. data.worldbank.org. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.AGRI.ZS
  3. India’s Food Crises: A Close-Up by Nina Ninkovic & Jean-Pierre Lehmann, 1st September, 2013. theglobalist.com.  http://www.theglobalist.com/indias-food-crises-close-up/
  4. Acute Food Scarcity by 2020 by DNA & Indian Express. January, 2011. infochangeindia.org. http://infochangeindia.org/agriculture/news/acute-food-scarcity-by-2020-warn-reports.html

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