ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Decentralisation in Food Security System

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Over the years, India has built up an enormous food security system based on procurement of foodgrains (mainly wheat and rice) and their allocation for highly subsidised food rations under the PDS (public distribution system) as well as for nutrition schemes like midday meals and anganwadi.

The sheer size of this system to cover the large population of India is impressive, even though there are frequent complaints of poor implementation or inadequate source availability. While there are several possibilities for improvement, a reform which can bring significant improvement in nutrition while at the same time reducing costs relates to decentralisation of this food security system. The existing system was initially built on excessive reliance on procurement of foodgrains from some surplus belts (the most prominent being the Punjab–Haryana–Uttar Pradesh belt). Later, this excessive dependence on a few surplus areas was reduced but only to some extent. Thus, we see transport of foodgrains across very long distances to keep the food security system running. This leads to high costs and some delays in foodgrains reaching the places where they are badly needed. Another problem is that, mostly, only the surplus grains of wheat and rice get distributed while many local foods of high nutrition are not included. In particular, the exclusion (by and large) of highly nutritious millets and pulses in the PDS is harmful.

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Updated On : 12th Jul, 2021

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