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Livelihood Security – Covid Times

Livelihood Security – Covid Times

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.

Issues:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Food absorption:

  • 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.

Way forward:

  • 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 “.

POSSIBLE UPSC CSE MAINS QUESTION:

There is a need for a comprehensive plan to ensure livelihood security in times of COVID – 19 pandemic. Elaborate