What is food security?
Food is as essential for living as air is for breathing. But food security means something more than getting two square meals.
Food security has the following dimensions:-
(a) Availability of food means food production within the country, food imports, and the previous years’ stock stored in government granaries.
(b) Accessibility means food is within reach of every person.
(c) Affordability implies that an individual has enough money to buy sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet one’s dietary needs.
Thus, food security is ensured in a country only if
- Enough food is available for all the persons
- All persons have the capacity to buy food of acceptable quality
- There is no barrier to access to food.
Why food security?
The poorest section of the society might be food insecure most of the time while persons above the poverty line might also be food insecure when the country faces a national disaster/calamity like earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami, widespread failure of crops causing famine, etc.
How is food security affected during a calamity?
Due to a natural calamity, say drought, the total production of foodgrains decreases. It creates a shortage of food in the affected areas. Due to a shortage of food, the prices go up. At the high prices, some people cannot afford to buy food. If such calamity happens in a very wide area or is stretched over a longer time period, it may cause a situation of starvation.
Massive starvation might take a turn to famine. A Famine is characterized by widespread deaths due to starvation and epidemics caused by forced use of contaminated water or decaying food and loss of body resistance due to weakening from starvation. The most devastating famine that occurred in India was the FAMINE OF BENGAL in 1943. This famine killed thirty lakh people in the province of Bengal. Nothing like the Bengal Famine has happened in India again.
But it is disturbing to note that even today, there are places like Kalahandi and Kashipur in Orissa where famine-like conditions have been existing for many years and where some starvation deaths have also been reported. Starvation deaths are also reported in the Baran district of Rajasthan, Palamau district of Jharkhand, and many other remote areas during recent years. Therefore, food security is needed in a country to ensure the food at all times.