Food Security in India

Food security is defined by the United Nations Committee on World Food Security as the means that all people have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life at all times.

It encompasses multiple dimensions, including:

  1. Availability: Ensuring an adequate supply of food through domestic production, imports, and government granaries.
  2. Accessibility: Ensuring that food is easily accessible to all individuals without any discrimination.
  3. Affordability: Ensuring that people have the financial means to purchase sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs.
  4. Utilization: Not all food has the same or sufficient nutritional value. It is critical to have access to high-quality food in order to be food secure.

Key reasons why food security is crucial for a nation 

  1. Human Health and Well-being: Access to adequate and nutritious food is essential for the physical and cognitive development of individuals, especially children. It prevents malnutrition, stunted growth, and various diet-related diseases. A well-nourished population is more productive and less susceptible to illnesses.
  2. Poverty Alleviation: Food security is closely linked to poverty reduction. When people have access to affordable and nutritious food, they are better able to focus on education, work, and overall self-improvement, breaking the cycle of poverty.
  3. Social Stability: Insufficient access to food can lead to social unrest and political instability. Hunger and food scarcity can result in civil unrest, protests, and migration, as people seek better living conditions elsewhere.
  4. Economic Productivity: A well-fed and healthy workforce is more productive. When people have enough to eat, they are better able to concentrate on their jobs and contribute to the nation’s economic growth.
  5. Agricultural Sector Development: Food security necessitates a robust and sustainable agricultural sector. Investing in agriculture, modernizing farming techniques, and promoting agricultural research and development not only improves food availability but also boosts the economy through increased exports and job creation.
  6. National Security: A food-secure nation is less vulnerable to external shocks and trade disruptions. Overreliance on food imports can make a nation susceptible to price fluctuations and geopolitical tensions.
  7. Environmental Sustainability: Food security requires a balance between agricultural production and environmental preservation. Promoting sustainable farming practices helps preserve natural resources, mitigate climate change, and protect biodiversity.
  8. Health Crisis Preparedness: A nation with a strong food security system is better prepared to handle health crises and emergencies, such as natural disasters, pandemics, or conflicts, as it ensures the availability and distribution of essential food supplies to affected populations.
  9. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Food security is an integral part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 2: Zero Hunger. Achieving food security is essential for achieving other SDGs related to poverty reduction, good health, gender equality, and more.
  10. Social Equity and Inclusion: Ensuring food security for all segments of society, regardless of socio-economic status, promotes social equity and inclusivity. It helps reduce disparities and ensures that vulnerable and marginalized populations have access to essential nutrition.

Current Framework for Food Security in India:

    1. Constitutional Provision: While the Indian Constitution does not explicitly mention the right to food, the fundamental right to life (Article 21) can be interpreted to include the right to live with human dignity, which encompasses access to food and basic necessities.
    2. Buffer Stock: The Food Corporation of India (FCI) plays a crucial role in procuring food grains at minimum support prices and storing them in warehouses. These food grains are then supplied to state governments based on their requirements.
    3. Public Distribution System (PDS): The PDS has become an integral part of the government’s food economy management. It aims to supplement the food requirements of the population and not provide the entire quantity of commodities. Items like wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene are distributed through the PDS, and some states also distribute additional items like pulses, edible oils, salt, and spices.
    4. National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA): The NFSA represents a significant shift from welfare-based to rights-based approach to food security. It covers 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population under two categories:
      • Antyodaya Anna Yojana: Provides 35 kg of foodgrains per household per month to the poorest of the poor.
      • Priority Households (PHH): Entitled to receive 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month.
  • Food Security Programs of India

  • Mid-Day Meal Program for school children.
  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Program
  • Anganwadi centers

Additionally, the Act has special provisions for children between 6 months and 14 years old, who receive nutritious meals through Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centres known as Anganwadi Centres.

National Food Security Act (NFSA) of 2013

The National Food Security Act (NFSA) of 2013, passed on July 5, 2013, marks a significant shift in the approach to food security, moving from a welfare-based approach to a rights-based one.

Under the provisions of the NFSA, up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population are legally entitled to receive subsidized foodgrains through the Targeted Public Distribution System. This entitlement is divided into two categories:

  1. Antyodaya Anna Yojana: The scheme provides 35 kg of foodgrains per household per month to the poorest of the poor.
  2. Priority Households (PHH): Households falling under the PHH category are entitled to 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month.

The NFSA also mandates that the head of the household, for the purpose of issuing ration cards, should be the eldest woman aged 18 years or older.

In addition, the Act includes special provisions for children aged 6 months to 14 years, ensuring they receive a nutritious meal for free through the extensive network of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centers, commonly known as Anganwadi Centres.

Challenges Related to Food Security in India:

  1. Deteriorating Soil Health: Soil degradation due to excessive use of agrochemicals, deforestation, and natural calamities poses a threat to sustainable food production.
  2. Invasive Weed Threats: Invasive pests and weeds have caused significant damage to crops, affecting food production.
  3. Lack of Efficient Management Framework: The Public Distribution System faces challenges like leakages, diversion of food grains, inclusion/exclusion errors, and weak grievance redressal and social audit mechanisms.
  4. Faults in Procurement: Improper accounting and inadequate storage facilities lead to wastage of food grains.
  5. Climate Change: Changing precipitation patterns and extreme weather events like heatwaves and floods are reducing agricultural productivity, posing a serious threat to food security.
  6. Supply Chain Disruptions: Global events, like the Covid-19 pandemic and conflicts between countries impacting food-producing regions, have disrupted the global supply chain and led to food scarcity and inflation.

Way Forward:

  1. Sustainable Farming: Focus on improving productivity through biotechnology, watershed management, nano-urea, and micro-irrigation. Establishing Special Agriculture Zones with ICT-based crop monitoring can be beneficial.
  2. Precision Agriculture: Adopt information technology to ensure crops and soil receive optimal care, leading to increased incomes and reduced input costs for farmers.
  3. Revitalising Aadhaar Seeding of Ration Cards: Strengthen Aadhaar linking to ration cards to ensure that valid beneficiaries receive their share of food grains efficiently.
  4. Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Through JAM: Streamline food and fertilizer subsidies through direct benefit transfers using the JAM trinity platform (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, and Mobile) to reduce the physical movement of food grains and promote financial inclusion.
  5. Transparency in Food Stock Holdings: Improve communication channels with farmers to get fair deals for their produce and invest in advanced storage facilities to deal with natural disasters. Deploy foodgrain banks at the block/village level to provide subsidized food grains to beneficiaries.
  6. Addressing Issues With an Umbrella Approach: Consider diverse issues like inequality, food diversity, indigenous rights, and environmental justice in a holistic manner to promote a sustainable green economy.

Related Articles

What Makes India a Federal Country

First Amendment To The Indian Constitution

List of Vice Presidents of India

Population Pyramid

Presidents of India

Pardoning Powers of the President

Mountains of India

WPI and CPI Inflation Rates

List of Miss World Winners from India

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

List of Governors of State 2023

Retirement Ages of Judges In India

States of India and their Capital

Human Development Index (HDI)

National Language of India

Biosphere Reserves of India

Fiscal Policy Meaning

Foreign Policy of India

Right to Freedom in Indian Constitution

Forests in India

List of all Prime Ministers of India

Citizenship in India

Union Territories in India

Revolt of 1857

Neighbouring Countries of India

Land Reforms in India

Socio-Religious Reform Movements

National Emergency in India

Minority Status In India


India’s Industrial Policy

Status of Women in India

Food Security in India


India’s Fiscal Deficit Targets

Primary Agricultural Credit Societies

Union Budget 2023-24

The Supreme Court of India

Temperature Inversion

Environment (Protection) Act 1986

Cropping Pattern and Major Crops of India

Sectors of the Indian Economy

Directive Principles of State Policy

Composition and layers of Earth’s atmosphere

Common Uniform in Indian Army

Indian Airforce Day

Temple Architecture in India

Important sources of the Indian constitution

Goods and Services Tax (GST)


Drainage Patterns and Drainage Systems of India

Quit India Movement

World Happiness Report 2023

Mangrove Forests

Reserved Forest

Green Revolution

Classical Languages in India

Pardoning Power of the President

Pressure Groups

Public Interest Litigation

Parliamentary Committee

Poverty line estimation in India

Basel Norms

Fundamental Duty

Manual Scavenging in India

Ninth Schedule of the Indian Constitution

Public Private Partnership

The preamble to the Constitution of India

Poverty in India

Seven Wonders of the World

The History Of Our Delhi

Public And Private Sector Banks In India

National Tree of India

National Symbols of India

Full Form Of MBA |

Freedom Fighters of India

Collegium System in India

IAS Full Form

Bhagat Singh Biography


Father of Public Administration

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Biography

Leave a Reply