The growth in the number of nutrition safety programs by central and state governments has only resulted in the growth in the number of malnutrition in India. So what if we are second in population, at least we top the malnutrition list!
The need of the hour is to convert the green revolution into an “EVERGREEN REVOLUTION”. To strike the iron, the food security bill was introduced. But is it sure to bring down the plight of the “aimed beneficiaries “of the bill? Success or failure? The answer is uncertain.
Since Indian agriculture seems to be at cross roads, the food security bill faces five major challenges:
Challenge 1: PRODUCTION PLANNING AND REMUNERATIVE MARKETING
Our agriculture is increasingly becoming a gamble in the market. Production goes up when farmers are assured of a remunerative market. This is clear from our experiences in commodities like wheat, rice, eggs and milk. The challenge here is threefold:
- State land use boards exist but they are not equipped to provide practical advice to farm families on land use planning involving meteorological marketing at management information. These state land use boards can really or “could have” served as a ‘virtual college’ in each state using a hub and spoke model.
- A decentralized system of procurement and storage for reducing transaction and transportation costs as well as for operating the food security program and preventing both distress sales and panic purchases.
- Community feed and fodder banks to enable landless labour families to take to animal husbandry by providing good quality but low cost fodder and feed.
Challenge 2: Achieving productivity, quality and income revolutions
What small farmers need are not so much subsidies but efficient services from the institutional agencies. Besides providing the much needed horizontal linkages among the vertically structured programmes of major scientific agencies, we also need similar horizontal linkages among various technology missions, such as those dealing with oilseeds, pulses, maize, cotton etc.
Challenges 3: Generating more jobs and sustainable livelihoods in rural areas
More jobs/livelihood opportunities need to be created in the rural non-farm sector and in rural-urban linkage sector. The non-farm employment should be based on the goods and services for which there is market demand.
Challenge 4: Agro-aqua farms along the coastal areas
Planting of mangroves, salicornia, casuarinas, cashew nut and other suitable tree species together with inter-cropping with arhar and prawn farming will help in improving both the ecological security of coastal areas and the livelihood security of the coastal communities.
Hoping that India is able to face all these challenges unfailingly and the food security bill does not end up as “just another” one!