Covid and food security

  • IASbaba
  • August 3, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources  

Covid and food security

Context: Covid-19 and the ensuing global economic crisis have demonstrated that the world is unprepared for food security. 

Do you know? 

  • The UN’s recent report ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020’ projected that the SDG of Zero Hunger by 2030 will not be met.  
  • Almost 194.4 million people in India are undernourished, according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 report by the FAO. 

What are the four pillar of food security? 

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) states that the four pillars of food security are  

  • Availability 
  • Access 
  • Stability  
  • Utilisation 

What actions were taken by government to tackle the food insecurity in future? 

  • The Union government announced the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) will be extended till November.  
  • Free grain is being distributed under the scheme to ensure the poorest of the poor are not left hungry.  
  • The scheme is supposed to cost Rs 1.7 lakh crore to the exchequer.  

Challenges w.r.t PMGKAY 

  • Poor Distribution by States: Almost 8 lakh tonnes of foodgrains had been allocated for distribution under the scheme in March, but the states were able to distribute only 1.07 lakh tonnes of that till May. 
  • Inadequate focus on all four pillars of Food Security: While the government is ensuring availability, access to foodgrains and utilisation are the areas that government has underperformed and needs immediate attention. 

What will be the consequences if drawbacks in distribution is not addressed? 

  • Bad Governance: It will lead to wastage of resources primarily due to human & administrative inefficiency. This will further put people into stress during pandemic 
  • Disproportionate impact on weak: The food security and nutritional status of the most vulnerable population groups like SC/STs/poor is likely to deteriorate further 
  • Gains will be lost: A disruption in accessing foodgrains might also mean that the gains India has had in its fight against malnutrition among vulnerable groups like women and children might be lost 

Way Ahead 

  • The FAO recommends improved information systems and collaborating with the private sector to solve distribution problems.  
  • Nutrition-centric programmes like the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and mid-day meals need to keep going strong even though Anganwadi Centres and schools (nodal agencies for the schemes) might not open soon 
  • Inter-state collaboration and learning can be a viable solution in India’s case. For ex: States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Odisha have responded well even during lockdown times by providing dry ration, under these schemes, from door-to-door. 
  • Direct cash transfers into the accounts of eligible beneficiaries have worked in states like Rajasthan to reduce stunting, wasting and underweight among children and can be launched at the national level. 


For ensuring zero hunger – resilient and strong systems are needed 

Connecting the dots:

  • National Food Security Act 
  • Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan 

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