Food Security in India

The purpose of this post is to expand your awareness of the idea of food security, as well as the major factors that are used to address the problems of the food security issue and intervention strategies to enhance food security in India.


  1. Introduction:
  2. Food Security in India
  3. Emerging Issues in the Context of Food Security in India
  4. The Problem and Challenges of Food Security
  5. The Interventions and Strategies Adopted to Improve Food Security in India
  6. Major programmes and schemes 
  7. Summary


After developing the basic understanding about the concept of food security in previous post The programs and initiatives started to improve food security in India will be covered in this blog post. Understanding India's status with regard to food security is the focus of this session. Later, we will highlight some of the significant initiatives undertaken to overcome the issues posed by food security. We will first analyze the specific challenges of food security in India.

Food Security in India

Let's start by comprehending the problems and worries pertaining to the food security circumstances in rural India. Here, we give a succinct description of the circumstance.

Global food insecurity is still a problem. It's a big problem for both industrialized and developing nations. More than 700 million individuals worldwide were deemed to be food insecure in 2013, meaning they lacked enough and consistent access to healthy food. However, in developing nations, poor food utilization caused by a lack of access to clean water, sanitation, or healthcare, as well as unstable access to enough food at all times due to sudden events like economic, climatic, or political crises or cyclical events like seasonal food insecurity, further compromise food security .

With 255 million food insecure people, India has the largest food insecurity rate in the world, and by 2023, that figure is expected to reach more than 286 million. Lack of access to food is associated with adverse consequences in a variety of areas, including education, health, psychological well-being, and social outcomes, according to research .

In all settings, food insecurity is a result from limitations in the availability of food, access to food supplies, or both (WHO 2008). The food insecurity has been defined and conceptualized at the level of individual, household and community. As we learned the definition of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. Food insecurity “refers to the social and economic problem of lack of food due to resource or other constraints, not voluntary fasting or dieting, or because of illness, or for other reasons” (Wunderlich 2006). Food insecurity can be indicated by hunger, malnutrition, or poverty. It is the reverse of food security, a condition in which all households have secure physical and economic access to adequate food (Lang, 2002, p.261). 

In India, those with lower socioeconomic status have been demonstrated to have a higher prevalence of food insecurity, specifically access to food. Discrimination based on caste, in particular, increases food insecurity among individuals who are already economically disadvantaged. While social exclusion further restricts access to food and reduces social capital and connections, economic exclusion affects a household's ability to access healthy food. In turn, a lack of social capital limits access to official or unofficial safety nets for food aid.

Emerging Issues in the Context of Food Security in India

In the last 20 years, there have been numerous new challenges with food security in India. Among them are the effects of economic liberalization in the 1990s on agriculture and food security, the creation of the WTO and, in particular, the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) under it, challenges posed by climate change, the crisis of the three Fs, namely, food prices, fuel prices, and financial crisis, the phenomenon of hunger amidst plenty, or the accumulation of stocks in the early years of this decade and in 2008-09 along with high levels of poverty, and the introduction of targeting in the United States For the nation's food and nutrition security, these recent developments have presented both opportunities and problems.

Since the start of planning, ensuring food security has been one of India's top developmental goals. In the 1970s, India attained and has maintained its food grain self-sufficiency. This has prompted a variety of actions targeted at boosting and enhancing the distribution of food at the national and regional levels as well as its availability and affordability. Since there are many different aspects to the problem of food insecurity, the nation has chosen a food of intervention strategies to address it.

The Problem and Challenges of Food Security

At the national level, India has made progress in achieving food grain security, but this progress has not trickled down to individual families, where there is still a high level of food insecurity. The majority of the world's hungry people reside in India. On the Global Hunger Index, India has historically performed poorly. India was ranked 67th out of 112 nations in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) in 2010, 65th out of 79 countries in the GHI report from 2012 (IFPRI), and 63rd out of 78 countries with food insecurity in the GHI report from 2013. Similar to this, malnutrition is pervasive, severe, and even concerning in India, particularly among women and children. According to a Global Survey Report published on July 19, 2012 by Save the Children, India is rated 112 out of 141 countries in terms of Child Development Index (CDI). 141 countries, at 112 on the Child Development Index (CDI). Additionally, there are differences across distinct societal segments and between states.

Three crucial actions are required to guarantee food security: production, distribution, and utilization. The issue of food insecurity has been conceptualized and researched along these three axes: as a production challenge, where it is necessary to alter how food is produced by increasing unit productivity; as a consumption challenge, where it is necessary to alter the dietary drivers that influence food production; and finally, as a socio-economic challenge, where it is necessary to alter the way the food system is governed. The third position holds that  food insecurity is caused more by an access of access to enough food than by a lack of supply, as some members of society cannot afford to do so.

The Interventions and Strategies Adopted to Improve Food Security in India

Three categories are used to group the interventions and techniques used in India. The first category includes interventions intended to change the effectiveness of food production; the second category includes interventions intended to change consumption patterns; and the third category includes interventions intended to address imbalances and inequities in socio-economic governance and social capital.

Major programmes and schemes

The government of India has launched a variety of initiatives to combat hunger and malnutrition and enhance food security. We'll review a couple of these programs and list some of them so we can better comprehend them:

Food Security Mission

The National Food Security Mission (NFSM) is a 5-year-old Central Scheme of the Government of India that aims to boost sustainable production and productivity of wheat, rice, and pulses in order to guarantee national food security. By spreading new technologies and farm management techniques, the goal was to close the yield gap for these crops. The 11th five-year plan's goals were surpassed, and in 2012, the 12th five-year plan was added. NFSM wants to increase food grain output by 25 million tons under the 12th Plan. NFSM suggests covering coarse cereals and fodder crops throughout the 12th plan period in addition to rice, wheat, and pulses (2012-17).

National Policy On Farmers 

The government launched the National Policy on Farmers (NPF) in 2007 with the goal of enhancing the economic viability of farming and raising farmers' net income. The 2007 National Policy on Farmers' main characteristics are:
  • Formation of asset in respect of land, water, livestock, fisheries and bio-resources. 
  • Supply of good quality seeds and disease-free planting material. 
  • Region and crop specific implements and machinery. 
  • Adequate and easy reach of institutional credit at reasonable interest rates and farmer-friendly insurance instruments. 
  • Support services and inputs like application of frontier technologies, agricultural bio-security system, use of ICT and setting up of farm schools to revitalize agricultural extension. 
  • Effective implementation of Minimum Support Price (MSP).

National Horticulture Mission

National Horticulture Mission (NHM) is an Indian horticulture Scheme promoted by Government of India. It was launched under the 10th five-year plan in the year 2005- 06.While Government of India contributes 85%, 15% share is contributed by State Governments. This mission was launched with the following objectives:
  • To develop horticulture to the maximum potential available in the state and to augment production of all horticultural products (fruits, vegetables, flowers, coco, cashew nut, plantation crops, spices, medicinal aromatic plants) in the state. Other objectives include: 
  • To provide holistic growth of the horticulture sector through an area based regionally differentiated strategies 
  • To enhance horticulture production, improve nutritional security and income support to farm households 
  • To establish convergence and synergy among multiple on-going and planned programmes for horticulture development 
  • To promote, develop and disseminate technologies, through a seamless blend of traditional wisdom and modern scientific knowledge 
  • To create opportunities for employment generation for skilled and unskilled persons, especially unemployed youth

National Mission on Pulses and Oilseeds

In terms of edible oil, India is heavily dependent on imports. The fact that production is concentrated primarily in rain-fed areas has been one of the major obstacles to increasing oilseed yield. Only one-fourth of the nation's oilseed-producing land is still irrigated. In the years 2012 to 2017, the Indian government promoted the National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP). These are the mission's goals:
  • Increasing Seed Replacement Ratio (SRR) in oil crops with focus on Varietal Replacement; 
  • Increasing irrigation coverage under oilseeds from 26% to 36%; Diversification of area from low yielding cereals crops to oilseeds crops; inter-cropping of oilseeds with cereals/ pulses/ sugarcane; 
  • Use of fallow land after paddy /potato cultivation; 
  • Expansion of cultivation of Oil Palm and tree borne oilseeds in watersheds and wastelands; 
  •  Increasing availability of quality planting material enhancing procurement of oilseeds and collection; and 
  • Processing of tree borne oilseeds. Inter-cropping during gestation period of oil palm and tree borne oilseeds would provide economic return to the farmers when there is no production.

National Rural Livelihoods Mission

The Government of India's Ministry of Rural Development is responsible for implementing the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), a scheme aimed at reducing poverty. The goal of this plan is to encourage rural poor organization and self-employment. The main goal of this initiative is to group the underprivileged into SHGs (Self Help Groups) and prepare them for self-employment. After redesigning the Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP), the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) introduced the Swarnajayanti Grameen Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) in 1999 with the goal of encouraging rural poor people to engage in self-employment. The shortcomings of the SGSY program are now filled by the transformation of SGSY into NRLM. This program, which has a $5.1 billion budget and was introduced in 2011, is one of the Ministry of Rural Development's main initiatives. One of the biggest programs in the world to help the underprivileged have a better quality of life is this one. With a credit of $1 billion, the World Bank is supporting this endeavor. On September 25, 2015, Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana replaced the program.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act/Scheme 

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of 2005 (also known as NREGA No. 42, later abbreviated to MGNREGA or "Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act") is a piece of Indian labor law and social security that attempts to protect the "right to work."

By offering every home with adults who volunteer to perform unskilled manual labor at least 100 days of pay employment in a fiscal year, it seeks to increase the security of livelihood in rural areas.

After being passed in 2006, the act was put into effect in 200 Indian districts. As a result of this pilot program's success, NREGA's coverage was expanded to include all Indian districts as of 1 April 2008. The world's largest and most comprehensive social security and public works program, this one.

With the intention of "improving livelihood stability in rural regions by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to conduct unskilled manual labor," the MGNREGA was established. Making durable assets is one of MGNREGA's other objectives (such as roads, canals, ponds, wells). Within 5 kilometers of an applicant's home, employment must be available, and minimum wages must be paid. Applicants are eligible for an unemployment payment if job is not offered within 15 days of applying. As a result, employment under MGNREGA is a right recognized by law.

National Rural Health Mission 

The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), which is now a part of the National Health Mission, is a project the Indian government launched to address the unmet medical requirements of rural areas. The NRHM was initially entrusted with addressing the health requirements of 18 states that had been identified as having weak public health indicators when it was first launched on April 12, 2005. The Empowered Action Group (EAG) States, North Eastern States, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh have received special attention under the NRHM. In order to ensure simultaneous action on a wide range of health determinants, such as water, sanitation, education, nutrition, social justice, and gender equality, the mission is to establish a fully operational, community owned, decentralized health delivery system with inter-sectoral convergence at all levels. It was anticipated that institutional integration would provide an emphasis on results, assessed against Indian Public Health Standards for all healthcare facilities.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) for children below 06 years to provide nutrition and pre-school education

The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, which was introduced on October 2, 1975, is one of the Government of India's hallmark initiatives and one of the biggest and most distinctive early childhood care and development programs in the world. As a response to the challenge of providing non-formal pre-school education on the one hand and ending the vicious cycle of hunger, illness, diminished learning capacity, and mortality on the other, it is the foremost emblem of the nation's dedication to its children and nursing mothers. The Scheme's beneficiaries include pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children between the ages of 0 and 6. The Scheme's goals are as follows:
  1. to improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years; 
  2.  to lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child; 
  3.  to reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout; 
  4. to achieve effective co-ordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to promote child development; and 
  5. to enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.

Mid Day Meal (MDM) for children of 06-14 years,

The Government of India's Midday Lunch Scheme is a school meal program intended to enhance the nutritional status of school-age children across the country. For kids in primary and upper primary classes attending government, government-aided, local body, Education Guarantee Scheme, alternative innovative education centers, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and National Child Labour Project schools run by the ministry of labor, the program provides free lunches on working days. It is the largest such program in the world, serving 120,000,000 children in over 1,265,000 schools and Education Guarantee Scheme centers.

Public Distribution System:

The Public Distribution System (PDS) of India is the largest food distribution system anywhere in the world. It has been an important concern of the strategy of poverty alleviation. It has also been the successful mechanism for income transfer to low income segments of the population. The Public Distribution System in India has emerged as the most effective safety net operation. It provides rationed amounts of basic food items (rice, wheat, sugar, edible oils, kerosene) to the rural and urban population at below market prices to customers through a network of fair price shops. The PDS has changed both qualitatively and quantitatively since the late 1970s whereas the PDS was mainly confined to urban areas and food deficit regions till the late 1970s; it was extended to rural areas during the late 1980s. The importance of PDS as a major safety net and important welfare programme has been greatly emphasized over the years. 

The specific goals of PDS are to:
(i) make goods available to consumers, especially the disadvantaged/vulnerable sections of society at fair prices;
(ii) rectify the existing imbalances between the supply and demand for consumer goods;
(iii) check a nd prevent hoarding and black marketing in essential commodities;
(iv) ensure social justice in distribution of basic necessity of life;
(v) even out fluctuations in prices and availability of mass consumption goods;
(vi) support poverty alleviation programmes particularly rural employment programmes (SGRY/ SGSY/ IRDP/ Midday Meals, ICDS, DWCRA, SHGs and Food for Work and educational feeding programmes).

Janani Suraksha Yojana

The Janani Suraksha Yojana offers social assistance to the poor and needy by giving subsidized food-grains, pensions, insurance, and other benefits to expectant and nursing mothers. The Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) was established with the goal of lowering maternal and neonatal mortality by encouraging institutional delivery among expectant women from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

All states are now putting this plan into effect. The program offers qualified pregnant women financial support so they can give birth institutionally at a government-run hospital. 7.33 crore women have benefited from the NRHM since it was established. These are the main initiatives to strengthen India's food security. Even if some of these projects are in "mission mode," much work remains to be done to improve India's food security status.


People who lack access to food are most prevalent in India. In India, those with lower socioeconomic status have been demonstrated to have a higher prevalence of food insecurity, specifically access to food. Three categories are used to group the interventions and techniques used in India. The first category includes interventions intended to change the effectiveness of food production; the second category includes interventions intended to change consumption patterns; and the third category includes interventions intended to address imbalances and inequities in socio-economic governance and social capital.


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  2. Ericksen, P. 2008. Conceptualizing food systems for global environmental change research. Global Environmental Change 18:234-245. 
  3. Gaiha, R., et al. (2012) On hunger and child mortality in India. Journal of Asian and African Studies, 47(1) 3-17. 
  4. Jyoti, D.F., et al. (2005). Food insecurity affects school children’s academic performance, weight gain, and social skills. Journal of Nutrition, 135(12), 2831- 2839.
  5. Menon, Ramesh. (2012). One village. 60 millionaires. The miracle of Hiware Bazar, Tehelka Magazine, 9(42)


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