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Minor Project Report

Minor Project Report

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Food Security & Its Media Coverage

Minor Project For Paper Code: MMJN 255

Master of Mass Media

GGS IP University Delhi

Name: MAMTA Enrolment No.:0202034008 MMM III Semester

Food Security & Its Media Coverage

This is to certify that _MAMTA_, a student of Master of Mass media Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, enrolled for the batch 2008-10, with Enrolment no. _0202034008_ completed her Minor Research Project ‘Food Security and Its Media Coverage’ as part of Course Code: MMJN– 255.

Mr. Sarvesh Dutt Tripathi Saxena Faculty Member CMS Lecturer CMS University GGSIP University

Dr. Ambrish ConsultantGGSIP

New Delhi Date: 1.12.2009


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

I, _Mamta_, a student of Master of Mass Media (MMM), with enrolment number _0202034008_, batch_2008_, at Centre for Media Studies (CMS), Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University Delhi, have undertaken Minor Research Project (Course Code MMJN– 255) as prescribed in the third Semester. This report based on my research and is submitted herewith for evaluation in the Third Semester. I reaffirm that the Minor Project submitted by me is an original piece of writing and expression, and nothing has been lifted or copied from anywhere.

Date: 1.12.2009 Mamta


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

This report is based on the research which I have undertaken as prescribed in the syllabus of the third semester of Master of Mass Media. In the first part of the report a brief introduction of the topic, objective of the research and the research methodology adopted is given. In the next section complete description and analysis of the collected data is provided. Third section of the report is about the results of the research. In the last I have tried to discuss the topic and various aspects related to it and its contemporary relevance.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

I am really grateful to Mr. Sarvesh Dutt Tripathi who gave me his guidance in completing this project. This project is part of our paper Minor Project in which we had to conduct a minor research study on a topic of current relevance. It helped us in analysing, investigating and organising the data and writing the paper on the basis of the research conducted. I am also thankful to Dr. Ambrish Saxena who gave me his valuable guidance and directions while selecting the topic.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

Certificate Declaration Preface Acknowledgement 1. Food Security and Its Media Coverage /6-9
• • • • • • Abstract Introduction Objectives Research Methodology

2. Content Analysis /10-14
Table 1 Table 2

3. Conclusion /15-16 4. Discussion /17-29
• • • • • • • • • • Global Food Situation Effect of Economic Crisis on Food Security Campaigning for Right to Food in the World Right to Food Right to Food Campaign in India Public Distribution System (PDS) Malnourishment Issues of BPL Public Investment in Agriculture Effects of Floods and Draught


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
• • • • • • • • • Green Revolution Decline in Agricultural Production Unemployment Purchasing power of people Growing Indebtedness and Farmer’s Suicides Growing Landlessness Impact of Neo-liberal Reforms Green Revolution National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NERGA)

5. Bibliography/30


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

Food Security and its Media Coverage Abstract
When our country was faced with severe food scarcity in the 1960s media played a big role in popularising the Green Revolution and made it a big success with our country becoming self sufficient in food production. Over past few years agricultural crisis with rising food prices has resulted into food insecurity. There have been several reports and discussions on food security and right to food law. After taking charge for the second term the United Progressive Alliance government promised to enact the National Food Security Act as part of its 100 day’s agenda. However, the government could not present its draft in the Parliament within 100 days leading to delay in the implementation of Food Security Act. But this development sparked off a debate in the media about the need for Food Security and other issues related to it in the wake of draught like situation in the country and rising food prices. The poor monsoon and prevailing drought conditions in large parts of the country have once again turned the attention of policymakers to the problems of agriculture and food security. Against this backdrop the purpose of this research is to find out how Indian print media is covering the issue.

Food security refers to its availability and access to all. The right to food for the citizens is considered to be a basic human right in any welfare state or society. Food security exists when the population does not live in hunger or fear of starvation. United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization describes food security as “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” According to United States Department of Agriculture “Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum (1) the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and (2) an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
acceptable ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies).” The right to food is a part of the founding human rights texts of the postworld war II era, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1976 (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 19761 (ICESCR). Other international legal instruments that incorporate the right to food include human rights treaties on the rights of women, children, refugees, disabled persons, and instruments relating to the conduct of states during armed conflict. In the last decade the number of undernourished people has increased slowly but steadily. The most recent FAO under-nourishment data covering all countries in the world show that this trend continued into 2004–06. Despite

technological advances that have modernized the conditions of production and distribution of food, hunger and malnutrition still threaten the health and well-being of millions of people around the world. Many people still consider that access to food is a privilege rather than a basic


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
human right. It is estimated that about 35,000 people around the world die each day from hunger and a large number of people (mainly women, children, and the elderly) suffer from malnutrition. In case of food shortage, it becomes a moral obligation for governments in developing and developed countries to provide minimum dietary supplements to their citizens, especially to poor and vulnerable sections. Being a democratic and socialist republic, India has enshrined the right to life among the Fundamental Rights in the Constitution. Besides this the right to food is included in the Directive Principle of State Policy.

The objective of this research is to find out how much coverage newspapers are giving to the issues of food security. Some questions were formulated and through the research process I tried to find out answers to them. 1. Are newspapers giving coverage to the issue of food security? 2. How much coverage they are giving to food security? 3. Are newspaper reports covering the food security, raising other issues related to
o o o o o o o o

Unemployment PDS Storage of food grains Minimum support price (MSP) Effect of draught and flood Malnourishment Need for monitoring mechanism Adverse impact of Globalisation on agriculture


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

Irregularities in the method of identifying poor and fixing BPL beneficiaries


Decreasing production of food grains

4. Are they discussing the problems in Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS)? 5. Are they discussing the role of existing policies like ICDS, Antodaya Anna Yojana and NREGA in providing food security to the poor? 6. Are they raising the point that most of the people don’t have BPL cards and other aspects related to it?

Research Methodology
For conducting content analysis two national daily newspapers, namely, The Indian Express and The Hindu were selected. Articles related to food security were collected from the two newspapers published from August 15 to September 15, 2009. After collecting the data qualitative and quantitative content analysis was done. A list of issues related to food security was made and on the basis of the list how many issues were covered in the reports were determined. For conducting quantitative content analysis I tried to find out how many reports appeared in both the newspapers in a month’s time and how much print area has been dedicated to them in the whole newspaper. To measure the print area of a report in the whole newspaper total percentage area of a report was calculated. Supplements are excluded while calculating total percentage area of a news report or feature.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

Content Analysis The data was collected from the two daily newspapers, The Indian Express and The Hindu, published from August 15 to September 15, 2009.
Table 1

Issues 1. Raising of the quantity of food grain to be provided under National Food Security Act (NFSA) to 35 kg

Date Aug. 20 Aug. 27

The Indian Express

The Hindu


Demand of cutting of price from Rs 3 per kg to Rs 2 per kg under NFSA

Aug. 20 Aug. 27


Method to identify poor

Aug. 20 Aug. 27



Aug. 15 Aug. 27


Need for a monitoring mechanism and fix accountability

Aug. 15 Aug. 18



Aug. 21


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
Aug. 27 Sept. 14 7. Problems with TPDS and reforms Elimination of APL from the PDS and the proposed law Aug. 21 Aug. 27 Aug. 18 Aug. 21



PDS (Universal)

Aug. 21 Aug. 27


Malnourishment, hunger and starvation deaths

Aug. 21 Aug. 27



Aug. 21


Direct cash Transfer to the beneficiaries

Aug. 18 Aug. 21 Aug. 18 Aug. 21 Aug. 27


Antyodaya Anna Yojana


Rising food prices

Aug. 27 Aug. 31


Livelihood Security (Right to work, Social security, etc.)

Aug. 18 Aug. 27


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
16. Criticism of draft of the Right to Food Bill Aug. 15 Aug. 27 Aug. 21 Aug. 27


People’s access to food


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
Table 2 The Indian Express Length:45cm Breadth: 36cm Total Number of reports: 4 1. Date: August 15 Title: Whose right is it anyway? Feature on Op-ed 4 column Length of the report: 28.8cm Breadth of the report: 22.5cm Total pages: 24 (minus supplements) Total %age area of report: 1.66% (minus supplements) one page The Hindu Length: 56.8cm Breadth: 35.5cm Total Number of reports: 3 Date: August 21 Title: States oppose centre’s Proposal, insist on food for all Report –page 12 5 column Length of the report:16.5cm Breadth of the report: 21.2cm Total pages: 20(minus supplements) Total %age area of report: 0.86%(minus supplements) one page


Date: August 18 Title: Govt. considers tribunals for better food security Report – page 16 3 column Length of the report: 13.8cm Breadth of the report: 16.8cm

Date: August 27 Title: Legislating against hunger Feature –Page 10 4 column Length of the report: 26cm Breadth of the report: 25cm Total pages: 22 (minus


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
Total pages: 20 (minus supplements) Total %age area of report: 0.71% supplements) Total %age area of report: 14.65% Date: August 31 Title: Right to Food Act a gimmick: Karat Report –page 6 2 column Length of the report:14cm Breadth of the report: 16.8cm Total pages: 20 Total %age area of report: 0.58% (minus supplements)


Date: August 20 Title: Food Security Act likely to be delayed Report – page 4 2 column Length of the report: 12.8cm Breadth of the report: 8.5cm Total pages: 24 Total %age area of report: 0.27% (minus supplements)


Date: September 14 Title: Food security as per govt’s Poverty Estimates: EGoM Report on Business Page: page 15 3 column Length of the report: 8.6cm Breadth of the report: 23.2cm Total pages: 20 Total %age area of report: 0.61% (minus supplements)


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

The analysis of the data shows that the newspapers are giving coverage to the issue of food security and the other aspects related to it. After conducting a study of two newspapers, The Indian Express and The Hindu, from August 15 to September 15 it was found that The Indian Express published four reports and The Hindu published three reports (see the chart and Table 2).

The following charts show the total print area dedicated to the reports in each newspaper.

Table 1 gives the list of various aspects related to food security covered in the reports of both the newspapers. Overall seventeen of them were covered in the two newspapers out of which eleven were covered by The Indian Express and


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
sixteen by The Hindu. However, the number of reports published in The Indian Express was more. Aspects related to food security like need for universal PDS, monitoring mechanism, malnourishment and hunger, etc. were covered frequently. On the other hand, aspects like unemployment, lower minimum support price (MSP), decreasing production of food grain, etc were not covered in the reports. TPDS and other welfare schemes and their role in providing food security are also being discussed in the news reports. The flaws in their implementation and problems with the targeted schemes were also mentioned in the reports. All the reports in which the issue of BPL appeared raised the points that there is need to identify the population afresh and state governments have issued BPL cards to only few families.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

Discussion Global Food Situation
Unfortunately, a number of global economic and ecological problems continue to limit the prospect of global food security. World per capita cereal production (62% of least-developed countries’ [LDCs’] food consumption), for example, has been increasing only marginally in recent years. In fact, it has even been on the decline in subSaharan Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly in low-income countries struck by economic reforms, natural and other disasters, and other factors. The LDCs’ dependence on net food imports has been growing and is set to continue to grow; currently, 104 of 132 LDCs are net importers, although imports have brought little relief overall (Singer 1997). In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of chronically undernourished people more than doubled in 1970–91, notwithstanding that this region depended on food aid for half its total food imports. The population of this region is expected to more than double by 2020 (de Haen and Lindland 1997). Regional and global economic crises and chronic problems of

underdevelopment make the situation particularly bad in the developing world. Economic informalization clearly accompanies an economy’s disintegration. Real prices in domestic food markets have increased over the last few years and are set to increase further. To improve food security and global food supplies, policy scenarios of the 2020 Vision Initiative require increased exports of staple foods from industrialized countries to the LDCs (von Braun 1997). But insufficient


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
purchasing power among the world’s poorest 800 million people remains a primary obstacle to such strategies. Multilateral agreements in trade and investment further threaten the availability and accessibility of food for large segments of the world’s population. Many experts agree that the reduction in world surpluses and the increase in international prices encouraged by the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade pose an immediate threat to regions already suffering severe food insecurity. The duration of this threat is unknown. Global prospects for improving food security are further threatened by environmental limitations, even in Green Revolution countries, and by growing poverty. In Asia, a large share of the population will soon be without access to adequate food supplies (Zarges 1997). So, despite the technical modernization of food production and distribution, hunger and malnutrition still undermine the health and well-being of millions of people and actually seem to be worsening, particularly among low-income urban residents. This led Dr Uwe Werblow (1997) of the European Commission in Brussels to recommend favouring production of more traditional food crops in rural areas and developing non-land-using production in peri-urban and urban areas. 2009 has been a devastating year for the world’s hungry, marking a significant worsening of an already disappointing trend in global food security since 1996. The global economic slowdown, following on the heels of the food crisis in 2006–08, has deprived an additional 100 million people of access to adequate food. There have been marked increases in hunger in all of the world’s major regions, and more than one billion people are now estimated to be undernourished. Prompted by rising food prices in 2008, riots and demonstrations erupted in over 40 countries around the world. Unable to afford adequate food, many of the poor in these countries and others are at higher risk for malnutrition, which


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
can have devastating and long-lasting impacts on those suffering now and future generations. Food security is a foundation for building social and economic development. It depends on agriculture to provide sustenance, incomes and livelihoods for the world’s rural poor – 2.1 billion living on less than $2 per day.

Effect of Economic Crisis on Food Security
The impact of the economic crisis on the poor and food insecure is likely to be substantial, especially in the light of negative impact of soaring food and fuel prices already experienced by the most vulnerable population groups during 2006–08. The more difficult global economic environment has a significant influence on national food security in a number of poorer countries, many of which have become increasingly dependent on grain imports over the past decade. This reliance on food imports was spurred by trade liberalization policies and the expansion and improvement of the global transportation system. Increased reliance on grain imports has helped keep prices more affordable for consumers, but the lack of domestic agricultural growth that drove the imports has exposed many countries to volatility on international markets.

Campaigning for Right to Food in the World
Right to food campaign has been taken up worldwide at the behest of UN and civil society of various countries. Even the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have adopted tiny African nations to ensure the farmers grow more food. In recent years, a number of countries have begun drafting legislation designed to realise the right to food. Draft bills on the right to food are making their way through the legislative process in South Africa, Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru and Uganda (FAO 2009: 66-68). In 2005, Guatemala became the first country in Latin America to pass a law incorporating the right to food. Brazil has followed, passing the Federal Law on Food and Nutritional Security in 2006. In India, civil society has successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to enforce the government’s commitments under various food and nutrition schemes.

Right to Food


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
There are some important points that need to be noted in any discussion of food security. First, a targeted approach that seeks to restrict food security to some defined poor households is cumbersome, expensive and ineffective. There are the well known errors inherent in targeting, of unjustified exclusion of the genuinely poor and unwarranted inclusion of the non-poor. The proportion of the population that is nutritionally deprived is significantly larger than the "poor" population, and in many states they are not completely overlapping categories either. And in any case, households — and people within them — can fall in or out of poverty, however defined, because of changing material circumstances. Similarly they can also go from being food-secure to food-insecure in a short time. The reasons can vary: crop failures, sharp rises in the price of food, employment collapses, health issues that divert household spending, the accumulation of debt, and so on. Monitoring each and every household on a regular basis to check whether any of these or other features has caused it to become food-insecure is not just administratively difficult, it is actually impossible. Second, the notion that a universal scheme that provides subsidised food to all households is too expensive is not tenable either. Consider the maximal possible estimate of such spending. If all households in the country are provided 35 kg of food grain per month, that would come to around 90 million tonnes. At current levels of subsidy this would cost around Rs. 120,000 crores. This may seem a lot, but the current food subsidy already amounts to around Rs. 50,000 crores, so this is an additional Rs. 70,000 crores — or around 1.5 per cent of the gross domestic product. Surely, this is not too much to allocate so as to ensure that no one goes hungry in what should be a civilised society? In any case, compare the amount of Rs. 70,000 with the huge amounts (nearly Rs. 300,000 crores) that have been given away as tax benefits and other concessions to corporates over the past year, and it becomes a trivial amount.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
Third, any programme of national food security must be combined with a concentrated focus on improving food grain production in the country, so that we are not dependent upon imports in a volatile global market. This requires much more attention to the requirements of farmers, and speedy implementation of the many reforms that have already been suggested by the Farmers’ Commission to improve the productivity and financial viability of farming, particularly of food crops. Fourth, to make this successful it is also necessary to avoid instability in domestic prices of food grain and curb speculative tendencies. This doesn’t simply mean only cracking down on hoarders, which is part of the official publicity around any period of price rise. It also requires preventing speculative activity in futures markets, which means that there must be a ban on futures markets in all essential commodities. "Food security has three components," says Prof M S Swaminathan. "The first is food availability, which depends on food production and imports. The second is food access, which depends on purchasing power. The third, food absorption, is a function of safe drinking water, environmental hygiene, primary health care and education." According to Prof Swaminathan, a community food and water security movement, coupled with a universal public distribution system - characterised by common and differentiated entitlements, will help achieve the goal of a hungerfree India. “It has been 40 years since the Green Revolution and yet we don’t have adequate storage facilities. There is an urgent need to set up safe and hygienic grain storage facilities in at least 50 locations in the country, each capable of holding a million tonne of food grains.” Several national programmes — Targeted PDS, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, National Food for Work Programme, Antyodaya Anna Yojna, Integrated Child Development Scheme, etc., — are already operational in the country to help achieve the target of food security.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
Availability and maintaining continuous stock of rice and wheat for distribution may prove to be a hindrance in meeting the aims and objectives of the proposed Act. As production and procurement have been fluctuating in the country along with poor price policies the desired procurement is not guaranteed. The price received by the farmer is usually not good enough to cover the cost of production. This is a big disincentive for the farmers to sell the produce to the government.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

Right to Food Campaign in India
THE right-to-food (or RTF) campaign was formally launched in 2001 with an innovative mix of strategies, merging streams of social activism that had produced positive results in their own domains. The campaign depended in part on formally petitioning the judiciary for the enforcement of the right of every Indian to adequate nourishment. In this, it was inspired by preceding rulings of the highest court, which held that in cases of Fundamental Rights, it was willing to give little latitude to governmental pleas of financial stringency. Another tack that the RTF campaign adopted was awareness building, to bring moral pressure to bear on the administration at its interface with the people most vulnerable to food insecurity. Typically, the method employed - borrowed from the closely related campaign on the right to information - was the "jan sunwai" or public hearing, at which official claims of funds disbursement and assets creation were matched against the realities perceived by the supposed beneficiaries. A number of hearings of the RTF petition have been held in the Supreme Court since July 2001 and a series of orders of far-reaching significance issued. In November 2001, the Supreme Court directed all States to introduce a mid-day meal scheme (MDMS) for students in government and government-aided schools. It also ordered that the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) which was patchy and extremely selective in its coverage, be extended to provide universal coverage for all children below the age of six. From figures that had been submitted by commissioners appointed to assist in its deliberations, the Supreme Court concluded that at the minimum, this required that the number of anganwadi centres administering the ICDS needed to be increased from 600,000 to 1.4 million.

Public Distribution System (PDS)
In the post-Independence era, the country faced a problem of constant poverty and food insecurity in different regions of the country and more stress


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
was laid on poverty alleviation strategies, which in turn was supposed to have a positive impact on food security. The food crisis in the mid-sixties demanded a much wider government intervention to solve the problem, and therefore a Public Distribution System (PDS) was established. The major achievement of the PDS has been coverage of a substantial population of the country under its network, although there were significant cross-state variations in the volume of off-take. The PDS was criticised for its urban bias and its failure to serve effectively the poorer sections of the population. However, the PDS has been subjected to various systemic problems. One of the major problems was inefficiency in functioning of the Food Corporation of India machinery, resulting in a huge increase in operational cost. Other things like leakage through widespread corruption, illegal sales, creation of false ration cards, accession of ration facilities by relatively well-off households, etc. made the situation worse. However, the working of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) introduced in 1997 has often come under fire. There is growing concern that the food security scenario is actually worsening in the country. The experience since 1997 suggests that the system seriously compromises the achievement of the goals of household and individual food and nutrition security. There has been a significant fall in per capita levels of food consumption and calorie intake. There has also been a significant decline in per capita daily availability of food grains.

According to National Family Health Survey (NFHS), conducted in 200506, in India 46 per cent of children below three years are underweight; 33 per cent of women and 28 per cent of men have a body mass index (BMI) below normal; 79 per cent of children aged six to 35 months have anemia, as do 56 per cent of married women aged 15-49 years and 24 per cent of married men in that age group; 58 per cent of pregnant women have anemia.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

Issues of BPL
There are many flaws in identifying poor and ascertaining the BPL households. There are as many poverty figures as the number of entities that have undertaken this exercise. So, the government, represented by the Planning Commission, says 27.5% people are below the poverty line. But other entities, related and unrelated to the government, put it somewhere between 42% and 77%. Even among those that adopt the same methodology, there is wide variance. Fact remains, in all government lists till date, there has been a reasonable component of inclusion of the non-poor and exclusion of the very poor. “There are two main reasons,” says development economist Jean Dreze. One, any scoring method to identify poor families is bound to be a “hit and miss” affair. The causes of poverty are diverse and cannot be reduced to a simple arithmetic formula, he says. Two, even a theoretically perfect method would involve errors at the implementation stage because of mistakes, cheating, social exclusion, etc. “This is particularly the case when the scoring system is based on unverifiable criteria, as happened in 1992, making it easy to cheat,” points out Dreze. According to an estimate, of those classified as poor under the NSS, only 52% were BPL card-holders.

Public Investment in Agriculture
Public investment in the field of agriculture has also decreased from 3% of GDP to 1.7%. With the expansion of industries and increase in population the area of agricultural land has been decreasing.

Effects of Floods and Draught
Apart from this our food grain production is continuously being affected either by flood or draught. There has been a sharp decline in crop productivity. During 2008-09, agricultural growth dropped to a dismal 1.6 per cent.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
Our agriculture is largely dependent on the monsoon. The Economic Survey has projected the food output in 2008-09 at 230 million tonnes. It was 230.8 million tonnes in 2007-08. The scenario for 2009-10 is far from encouraging not least because of the inadequate monsoon in certain states.

Green Revolution
The Green Revolution in wheat and rice has now reached a dead end; it has not made an impact on cultivation in the rain-fed area and in respect of coarse grains and pulses. Indeed, it has had an adverse effect on agricultural environment. Both qualitative and quantitative has been the degradation of land, water and bio-resources; water-logging and excessive salinity have rendered fertile lands uncultivable. Post-harvest losses have been substantial. A second Green Revolution through genetically modified (GM) technology referred to as “gene revolution” is being advocated to improve productivity. But it must be ensured that crop biotechnology products are safe; GM food poses the risk of organ abnormalities. This technology has, however, been accepted by farmers the world over.

Decline in Agricultural Production
There has been a sharp decline in the agricultural growth rate and stagnation in agricultural production. The Planning Commission’s document The Agricultural Strategy for the Eleventh Plan shows that the agricultural GDP growth declined from 3.62% during 1984-85 to 1995-96 to 1.85% during 1995-96 to 2004-2005. The state wise trends indicate that the larger declines in agricultural growth have occurred in states that are predominantly rain fed. The most disturbing feature is the stagnation in the production of food grains, which has resulted in a decline in the per capita production of food grains. The per capita annual production of cereals has declined from 192 kg in 1991-95 to 174 kg in 2004-07 and pulses from 15 kg to 12 kg. Available data on fruits and


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
vegetables production also suggest that there is a sharp deceleration in recent years. National Horticultural Board data shows growth slowing from 5.5% per annum during the 1990s to 2.5% during 2000-01 to 2005-06.

The NSS 61st Round on Employment and Unemployment Situation in India, 2004-05 estimates the proportion of the workforce employed in agriculture and allied activities to be around 58.5%. This was around 62% in 1993-94. Aggregate employment growth in the rural areas had fallen from 2.03% during 1987-88 to 0.66% during 1993-94 to 1999-00. However, the data shows some increase in the rural employment growth rate to 1.97% during 1999-00 to 2004-05.

Purchasing power of people
One fourth population of the country doesn’t have the purchasing power to buy food. Per capita annual food grain demand has fallen in 2004-05 to 157 kg, the colonial average during 1937-41. According to NSS 59th round Survey the average expenditure of a farmer is Rs 503. The average for Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa is even less than Rs 400. The poverty line is Rs 425 per month. According to P. Sainath (March 2006 lecture in Jaipur) crores of people are living at Rs 8 per day.

Growing Indebtedness and Farmer’s Suicides
The NSS 59th round Survey on Indebtedness of Farmer Households conducted in 2003 reported that 48.6% of farmer households were indebted. A similar survey in 1991 found only 26% of farmer households to be indebted. Due to the squeeze in farm incomes and dwindling employment opportunities, there has been a phenomenal rise in the level of indebtedness within the peasantry.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
According to unofficial figures, the number of suicides by peasants has gone up to more than 2 lakhs across the country since the mid-1990s. A major cause of such suicides is the inability of peasants to pay the debt. In most cases, the debts are taken from private moneylenders as there is a massive decline in agricultural credit from banks and co-operatives has reduced access especially of small cultivators to institutional credit. A large number of farmers have no access at all to formal credit as a result debt relief packages don’t work. Rural banks had increased their branches from 16% to 60% by 1991 but by 2006 their number declined to nearly 48% and more than 3000 branches had closed down leaving the farmers dependent on moneylenders for credit.

Growing Landlessness
The proportion of rural households that did not have access to land for cultivation in India has increased by 10.6 per cent between 1993-94 and 2004-05. The data show that the incidence of households that do not cultivate land has increased in almost all Indian States in the previous decade, Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir and Assam being the only exceptions. The increase in the share of households without access to land for cultivation is higher for Adivasi households and non SC/ST households than for Dalit households.

Impact of Neo-liberal Reforms
The focus on deficit reduction through expenditure reduction by successive neo-liberal governments at the Centre has led to a large input costs. The removal of quantitative restrictions of agricultural imports and the maintenance of imports tariffs at levels well below the bound rates by government has led to a huge increase in agricultural imports and consequent fall in domestic prices of agricultural outputs, especially during the period of global decline in prices of agricultural commodities from the late 1990s to the early part of the present decade.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
The financial liberalization served to both limit access to institutional credit for the peasantry and other small products as well as raise the cost of credit through higher interest rates in the formal sector as well as through forcing increased reliance on high cost informal sector credit. The deflationary macroeconomic policies led to a significant decline of purchasing power as well as a collapse of rural infrastructure, thus impacting both supply and demand conditions in the rural economy negatively. The collapse of the public distribution system (PDS) in most parts of the country due to the switch overt to targeting system worsened the rural economic crisis and increased the extent and depth of rural deprivation.

National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NERGA)
Though there are problems in implementation and lack of awareness of working people of their rights under the Act, the NREGS has made a difference to the lives of the rural labouring population. The Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana operating in 586 districts in 2005-06 generated 82 crore person days of employment. But the NREGS operating in 200 districts in 2006-07 generated 91 crore person days of employment. To conclude the discussion the following points needs to be given a due consideration and media should also raise these issues. In order to enhance food grain availability, recognising that the majority of agricultural holdings in India are small in extent, the focus must be on enhancing production and viability of smallholdings. For this purpose, we need to step up public investment in irrigation and rural infrastructure and provide other forms of State support including credit, post-harvest storage facilities such as rural warehouses and processing. Government must expand the minimum support price (MSP) system, based on the cost of production including reasonable rate of return on investment and ensuring prompt and open-ended purchase for all major crops.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage
Following up on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and recognising that the right to food and the right to livelihood are intimately related, we need to move towards a comprehensive “Food and Employment Guarantee Act”. The TPDS must be replaced by a universal PDS with uniform prices affordable to the poor. The centralisation that took place under the TPDS should be reversed and state governments should, in the first instance, have the right to determine the required allocation under PDS for their state.


Food Security & Its Media Coverage

• • • • • • • • • • • • Frontline Economic and Political Weekly Outlook Sablog Social Scientist http://www.mssrf.org/fs/atlas/atlas.htm http://www.righttofoodindia.org/orders/sc_judgment_revision_nutrition al_and_financial_norms09.pdf www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/files/Food_security_in_India.ppt http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Products/Progress2009 /MDG_Report_2009_En.pdf http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/ess/documents/food_security_s tatistics/country_profiles/eng/India_E.pdf Documents of All India Kisan Sabha and All India Agricultural Workers Union Food Security: Indicators, measurement and the impact of trade openness edited by Basudeb Guha-Khasnobis, Shabd S. Acharya, Benjamin Davis 2008 • Indian agriculture in the new millennium: changing perceptions and Development Policy edited by N. A. Mujumdar, Uma Kapila, Academic Foundation (New Delhi, India), Indian Society of Agricultural Economics – 2006 Poverty and food security in India: Problems and policies edited by M.S. Bhatt- 2004 Economic reforms and food security: the impact of trade and technology in South Asia edited by Suresh Chandra Babu, Ashok Gulati

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