Availability of food in the market:
- Green revolution has increased the food availability.
- Today India has surplus grains in FCI.
- Issues faced by farmers:
- Labour shortage.
- Inputs like seeds, are expensive or unavailable under marketing arrangements.
- Supply chains are not fully functional, pricing is unremunerative, and public procurement is inadequate.
- Uncertainty on kharif sowing is also there.
Access to food:
- Access to food is a function of purchasing power.
- National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the PDS, has ensured some additional food to every citizen.
- Closure of schools and anganwadi centres, and the associated disruptions in the provision of midday meals and other nutritional input.
What is needed:
- Food basket could be widened by including millets, pulses and oil.
- Steps are needed to avoid hidden hunger caused by the deficiency
- of micronutrients in food.
- A life cycle approach recommended in the NFSA, especially the first 1000
- days in a child’s life, when the cognitive abilities of the child are formed is needed.
Job security is needed:
- Ensuring value addition to primary products is needed. Eg: Rice Biopark in Myanmar (here straw, bran, and the entire biomass are used).
- Investment in new technologies which can contribute to biomass utilisation is needed.
- The Amul model of value addition could be replicated in the horticulture sector.
- Women farmers at the forefront of horticulture, need to be afforded attention to both their technical and economic empowerment during this pandemic.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act:
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) should be strengthened.
- The definition of a worker in MGNREGA so far – unskilled, manual work, and not to skilled jobs in agriculture and allied activities.
- It is imperative now, to expand this definition to cover skilled work related to farmers and their farming activities.
- This is important for women farmers and workers. They engage in a range of essential care activities, like caring for children, the elderly and sick people.
- These tasks, should be recognised as work and supported with appropriate education.
- Absorption of food in the body, which is dependent importantly on sanitation, drinking water and other non-food factors, including public health services is needed.
- Making sure these services are functional depends on the nature of the local panchayats and their coordination with other local bodies.
- Ample volume of clean water is essential for frequent hand washing.
- If India can ensure these three,
- Food availability
- Food absorption
- Food access then it shows a fairly robust system of food and nutrition security.
- Through a series of measures like farmers cooperation, technological upgrading and favourable public policies in procurement, pricing and distribution, India can deal with the pandemic.
Source:” The Hindu “.
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