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Kirti Meena


Development problem: Food security in India & remedies

Food security is a condition related to the ongoing availability of food. Concerns over food
security have existed throughout history. There is evidence of granaries being in use over
10,000 years ago, with central authorities in Civilizations including Ancient
China and Ancient Egypt being known to release food from storage in times of famine. Yet it
was only at the 1974 World Food Conference that the term 'food security' was established as a
formal concept. Originally, food security was understood to apply at the national level, with a
state being food secure when there was sufficient food to "sustain a steady expansion of food
consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices". A new definition emerged at
1996 World Food Summit; this time with the emphasis being on individuals enjoying food
security, rather than the nation. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),
food security "exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to
sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an
active and healthy life".
India is now facing an acute shortage of food. Indian soil is unable to feed her growing
population, for which huge quantities of food grains are imported from the foreign countries
like U.K., U.S.A., Australia and Burma.
Consequently, great amount of Indian wealth is drained away to the other parts of the world
leaving India in abject poverty and excessive misery.

Food security in India is an issue of rising concern with long term consequences affecting the
growth of 9%, which we have maintained for the last four years. About 26% of our people
live below the poverty line (BPL) today and they don't have enough money to buy essential
food items, not even the first meal.

The green revolution gave us food security in the 60's, but today there is a need for another
such revolution. The recent Food and Agriculture Organization summit concluded that over
100 million joined the world's hungry and 22 countries are vulnerable to chronic hunger.

Food security is a situation where a country can meet its domestic food demand while
maintaining enough reserves for any eventuality or crisis. Not only the demand of food
should be met, it has to be made more affordable.

Why it is a matter of concern today?

One main reason is the burgeoning population of India. Our present population is about 1.3
billion. Indian can see a surge in the domestic food demand from 168.3 million metric tonns
in 1991 to 343 million metric tonns in 2020 or maybe even more.

Agriculture and allied sectors contribute nearly 22 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP
of India), while about 65-70 per cent of the population is dependent on agriculture for their

It is difficult to teach philosophy to man who is desperate to have a handful of rice

Swami Vivekananda

Causes of food shortage of India:
The following are the principle causes of food-shortage in our country:
Want of improved methods of cultivation through science and technology.
Poverty and ignorance of Indian formers.
Tillers are not in feasts and picnics.
Wastage of food in feasts and picnics.
Wastage of food in wrong process of cooking.
Wastage of food for ignorance of preserving method.
Want of cold storage facility.
Defective food habit.
Dishonesty of dealers.
Excessive growth of population.

How has growth affected food security ?

India has seen an exponential growth rate in the last few years and has maintained a growth
rate of 9 percent over the last four years. When there is growth, which is confined to a few
pockets, there is an increase in consumption, but since the production is not growing at the
same rate, there needs to be a mechanism to ensure enough food for poor.

More recently agriculture has been under severe stress. Agriculture distress has become so
severe a problem that it has been given the top most priority in the eleventh five year plan.

Reliance on Rain

In India around 70% of the cultivated region is rain few and hence weather disturbances
directly affect agriculture. Recently appointed by the united nations, the Inter Governmental
Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC) gave concrete evidence of the anthropogenic climate
change is due to CO
emissions in the past 100 years in its report on climate change.

This climate change is the reason for the distortion in the rainfall patterns in India. During
2005, Southwest monsoon was not well distributed in time. It was below normal in June,
active in July, subdued in August and became active in September over the country.

Effect of rising Oil prices

Oil prices have come down recently, but their increase previously had a direct consequence of
the agriculture industry. Prices of fertilizers shot up and created a huge problem for
government in terms of a huge subsidy bill that also ensured the adequate supply of fertilizers.

Industrialization and Special Economic Zones

Tata Nano's departure from West Bengal was huge issue and covered all the newspapers of
the country. It is essential we create a balance between industrial development and
agriculture. In the Tata Nano case, valuable fertile land was give for the purpose of
industrialization. The result of the Mamta Banerjee led protests and the leaving of the project
mid way caused the fertile land in singur to be wasted. In India, most of the land is
uncultivable and hence it is a challenge for both the central and state government to use the
power of discretion and also use wisdom while allocating land.


Biofuels are being seen as the fuels for the next century. Brazil has successful energy model
for such biofuels. But it has adversely affected food security. In United States and countries
of European Union have started diverting major agriculture lands for the production of corn
and other crops that lead to production of ethanol etc. This led to a huge inflationary trend in
fuel prices across the globe.

The solution

We need to adopt a broad based approach to get us back in the comfortable position of food
security, which we enjoyed in the 60's. Looking at the big picture we need to build a solid
foundation to maintain our food supplies for the next 50 years or so. Areas of production have
been decreasing, they need to be increased. We also need implement measures like rain water
harvesting, watershed along with improvements in irrigation facilities.

Efforts to increase the production of fruits, vegetables and horticultural crops would ensure
both food security and adequate remuneration for farmers.

To achieve the growth rate of 4% targeted by the National Agriculture Policy 2000, quick
implementation of the swaminathan commission is required.

It is also imperative that we adopt appropriate mitigation measures that would insulate India
from the effects of global climate change.

Technical solution :

To maintain the need of food for the growing population and to meet the minimum food
requirement, various steps have been taken in these directions :
(i) Biotechnology is used to modify different crops genetically to increase the yield per
(ii) Genetically modified crops require less water compared to other crops.
(iii) Biotechnology made the crops more resistant to insects pests and diseases.
(iv) Biotechnology benefits both rich and poor farmers and make the environment safe and
free from pollution.

Green Revolution:

Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology
transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1960s, that increased agriculture
production worldwide, particularly in the developing world, beginning most markedly in the
late 1960s. The initiatives, led by Norman Borlaug, the "Father of the Green Revolution"
credited with saving over a billion people from starvation, involved the development of high-
yielding varieties of cereal grains, expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of
management techniques, distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers,
and pesticides to farmers.

Organic farming:

Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green
manure, compost, and biological pest control. Depending on whose definition is used, organic
farming uses fertilizers and pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides)
if they are considered natural (such as bone meal from animals or pyrethrin from flowers), but
it excludes or strictly limits the use of various methods (including synthetic
petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides; plant growth regulators such ashormones; antibiotic
use in livestock; genetically modified organisms; human sewage sludge; and nanomaterials)
for reasons including sustainability, openness, independence, health, and safety.

Genetically modified food:

Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material
(DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction
of a gene from a different organism. Currently available GM foods stem mostly from plants,
but in the future foods derived from GM microorganisms or GM animals are likely to be
introduced on the market. Most existing genetically modified crops have been developed to
improve yield, through the introduction of resistance to plant diseases or of increased
tolerance of herbicides.
Genetically engineered plants are generated in a laboratory by altering their genetic
makeup and are tested in the laboratory for desired qualities. This is usually done by adding
one or more genes to a plant's genome using genetic engineering techniques. Most genetically
modified plants can be modified in a directed way by gene addition (cloning) or gene
subtraction (genes are removed or inactivated). Plants are now engineered for insect
resistance, fungal resistance, viral resistance, herbicide resistance, changed nutritional
content, improved taste, and improved storage.
Once satisfactory plants are produced, sufficient seeds are gathered, and the
companies producing the seed need to apply for regulatory approval to field-test the seeds. If
these field tests are successful, the company must seek regulatory approval for the crop to be
marketed. Once that approval is obtained, the seeds are mass-produced, and sold to farmers.
The farmers produce genetically modified crops, which also contain the inserted gene and its
protein product. The farmers then sell their crops as commodities into the food supply market,
in countries where such sales are permitted.

Potential benefits of genetically engineered food include:

! More nutritious food
! Tastier food
! Disease- and drought-resistant plants that require fewer environmental resources
(water, fertilizer, etc.)
! Decreased use of pesticides
! Increased supply of food with reduced cost and longer shelf life
! Faster growing plants and animals
! Food with more desirable traits, such as potatoes that absorb less fat when fried
! Medicinal foods that could be used as vaccines or other medications.

Risks :

1. Allergies
Perhaps the number one health concern over GM technology is its capacity to create new
allergens in our food supply. Allergic reactions typically are brought on by proteins. Nearly
every transfer of genetic material from one host into a new one results in the creation of novel
proteins. Genetic engineering can increase the levels of a naturally occurring allergen already
present in a food or insert allergenic properties into a food that did not previously contain
them. It can also result in brand new allergens weve never before known.

2. Antibiotic Resistance
Genetic engineers rely heavily on antibiotics to guide experiments. It works like this: Not all
host cells will take up foreign genes, so engineers attach a trait for a particular type of
antibiotic resistance to the gene they introduce into host cells. After theyve introduced the
gene into the cells, they douse all the cells with the antibiotic to see which ones survive. The
surviving cells are antibiotic-resistant, and therefore engineers know they have taken up the
foreign gene.
Overuse of antibiotics can potentially cause the development of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
Several health organizations, including the World Health Organization and the American
Medical Association, have spoken out about the need for the use of these antibiotics to be
phased out of the process of making GM foods
3. Pesticide Exposure
The majority of GM crops in cultivation are engineered to contain a gene for pesticide
resistance. Most are Roundup Ready, meaning they can be sprayed with Monsantos
glyphosate herbicide Roundup without being harmed.
4. Unpredictability and the Unknown
Foreign genetic material in a host can cause other genetic material in that host to behave
erratically. Genes can be suppressed or overexpressed, causing a wide variety of results. One
consequence of overexpression, for example, can be cancer. Nutritional problems can also
result from the transfer. In one example, cows that ate Roundup Ready soybeans produced
milk with more fat in it. In another example, milk from cows injected with a genetically
engineered growth hormone was found by a number of researchers, including those published
in the journal Lancet, to have substantially higher levels of a compound known as insulin-like
growth factor-1, which is linked to human breast, colon and prostate cancers. The milk also
has higher levels of bovine growth hormones in it, along with pus and sometimes antibiotics.
GM crops have been linked to health problems as diverse as reproductive damage, cancer,
Alzheimers disease and diabetes.
Alternative solutions of Food Insecurity:

- Science, research and innovation must continue across all parts of the food supply chain.
- Farmers, food distributors and health practitioners must work closer together.
- The Study of Soil should be the new focus for researches as this has been neglected in the
past few years.
- Genetically modified technology/plant breeding and climate change have been two areas of
research that have received a lot of recent attention, at the expense of wider research aims,
particularly in relation to water and soil research.

Conclusions :

So for the production of food in great amount we should apply the certain technologies like
Green Revolution, Genetic Engineering, and Organic Farming. All of these technologies
increase the productivity of food crops. In this way we see that this sector is locked onto the
certain dominant technologies. Also there are several another way through which we solve the
food insecurity in India like NAREGA, Food security Bill, Acts and Schemes, Enabling open
market, Reforming Biofuel mandates etc.


! Chapter 1 - Introduction to Food Security: Concepts and Measurement
Food Security, Poverty and Nutrition Policy Analysis (Second Edition), 2014, Pages 7-28
Suresh C. Babu, Shailendra N. Gajanan, Prabuddha Sanyal

- Framework for participatory food security research in rural food value chains
Global Food Security, Volume 3, Issue 1, February 2014, Pages 8-15
F. Graef, S. Sieber, K. Mutabazi, F. Asch, H.K. Biesalski, J. Bitegeko, W. Bokelmann, M.
Bruentrup, O. Dietrich, N. Elly, A. Fasse, J.U. Germer, U. Grote, L. Herrmann, R. Herrmann,
H. Hoffmann, F.C. Kahimba, B. Kaufmann, K.-C. Kersebaum, C. Kilembe, A. Kimaro, et al.

- Food Demand and the Food Security Challenge with Rapid Economic Growth in the
Emerging Economies of India and China
Food Research International,
Vasant P. Gandhi, Zhangyue Zho

- Chapter 2 - Impact of Climate Change on Pest Management and Food Security
Integrated Pest Management, 2014, Pages 23-36
Hari C. Sharma, Chandra S. Prabhakar

- Build it back better: Deconstructing food security for improved measurement and action
Global Food Security, Volume 2, Issue 3, September 2013, Pages 188-194
Jennifer Coates