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EDITORIAL 63:“It’s about food, nutrition and livelihood security“
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020
M.S. Swaminathan & Nitya Rao
M.S. Swaminathan, eminent agricultural scientist, is Founder of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai.
Nitya Rao is Professor, Gender and Development at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K.
It’s about food, nutrition and livelihood security
Farmers’ cooperation, technological upgrading and favourable public policies can help India deal with the pandemic
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Food Security
We do not yet know exactly what the impact of the current pandemic will be on the kharif sowing and food availability in the future. Discuss -(GS 3)
This is one of the best articles which you will read regarding food security .Various dimensions have been covered .
- How to widen the food basket of our country ?
- How to improve food security with women participation etc . Let’s dive in !
The current national lockdown to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the problems of food, nutrition and livelihood security confronting a large number of rural people, in particular, migrants to cities.
- While some measures have been announced, such as provision of additional rice or wheat, some pulses and oil free of cost, as well as ₹1,000 cash for the purchase of other essential commodities through the Public Distribution System (PDS).
- We need to understand the different dimensions of food security in a holistic manner in order to address this problem in its totality.
- The first is the availability of food in the market, and this is seen as a function of production.
- Fortunately, thanks to the Green Revolution, today we have enough food in the market and in government godowns.
While some special exemptions have been given to the agricultural sector, farmers are confronted at the moment with:
- Labour shortages,
- Shortage of the inputs,
- Seeds are expensive or unavailable,
- Marketing arrangements including supply chains are not fully functional,
- Pricing is not remunerative, and public procurement is also not adequate.
- There is no room for complacency, as in the absence of demand,
- Lack of storage or value addition facilities, especially for perishable commodities,
WIDEN THE FOOD BASKET
The second dimension is the access to food, which is a function of purchasing power, as unless you are a farmer and grow your own food, others have to buy it.
WIDENING THE FOOD BASKET:
- NFSA and PDS : National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the PDS, has assured some additional food to every individual during this crisis.
- ADDING NUTRIENTS : This should be further strengthened and the food basket widened by including millets, pulses and oil.
- BALANCED MEALS : Steps should also be taken to avoid hidden hunger caused by the deficiency of micronutrients in the diet.
- LIFE CYCLE APPROACH : The consequent disruptions in the provision of midday meals or other nutritional inputs.
OTHER FACTORS :
If job security is threatened, then so is food and nutrition security.
- FOCUS ON PRIMARY PRODUCTS : We have to ensure people do not lose their jobs, and one way of doing this will be to ensure value addition to primary products.
One example of such value addition is the Rice Biopark in Myanmar, wherein the straw, bran, and the entire biomass are utilised.
- CO-OPERATIVE SECTORS : The Amul model provides a good example from the dairy sector of improved incomes to milk producers through value addition.
- HORTICULTURE : Similar attention needs to be given to the horticulture sector on a priority basis.
WORK UNDER MGNREGA
A second pathway to livelihood security for small and marginal farmers and landless households, and women within them, is strengthening the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
- EXPANDING WORKFORCE : Given the lack of jobs and incomes during the COVID-19 crisis, it is imperative to expand the definition of work in MGNREGA to cover skilled work related to farmers and their farming activities.
- INCLUSION OF WOMEN : This is particularly important for women farmers and workers, who should not just be given tasks of carrying stones or digging mud.
FOCUS ON NON-FOOD FACTORS :
The third dimension of food security is absorption of food in the body or its utilisation, which is dependent importantly on sanitation, drinking water and other non-food factors, including public health services.
- GOVERNANCE : Ensuring that these services are functional depends on the capacities of the local panchayats and their coordination with other local bodies.
- WATER : The lack of adequate clean water in particular has come to the fore in both rural areas and urban slums in the context of COVID-19, where one of the key measures for stopping transmission relates to frequent hand-washing.
- INTER LINKAGES : It is very critical to highlight the linkages between agriculture, nutrition and health.
Through a combination of farmers’ cooperation, technological upgrading and favourable public policies in procurement, pricing and distribution, we can deal with the fallouts of the pandemic.
We hope that this pandemic will help recognise the contribution of our farmers.