The global threat to our food security

Source: The post is based on the article “The global threat to our food security” published in the Live Mint on 26th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Food Security

Relevance: Threat to Food Security

News: Recently, data on inflation suggests a softening of the trend of rising inflation in retail prices.

Much of the inflation this year has been driven by rising food prices, particularly edible oil and more recently cereals, primarily wheat. Data on domestic as well as global production of wheat and rice suggest that the threat to food security isn’t over.

What are the various causes of threat to food security?
Global Level

At present, the heat waves and droughts have spanned across the world like Europe, China, the US and Brazil. For example, last month’s European drought was declared the worst in five centuries. The heat wave and droughts are threatening the global supply of major cereals and other food crops.

Due to these extreme weather events, the agricultural output would decline. For example, the latest EU forecast suggests a decline of 16% for maize to 5% for wheat and 8-10% for edible oil. This will lead to global and domestic supply shortages for most farm commodities, and would lead to high food inflation and would lead to a threat to food security across the world.

Due to war, Ukraine is witnessing lower sowing which will impact the global food supply.

India level

In India, wheat production has already suffered downward revision due to an untimely heat wave this March.

The rice situation is also not encouraging because the area under paddy cultivation is less than last year’s.

The standing paddy crop in major rice-producing states is witnessing a mysterious dwarfing disease.

India’s Rice and Wheat Procurement for this year have been the lowest in the last three years.

Further, the government’s track record in distribution is no better. There have been irrational attempts at cutting and switching allocations between rice and wheat across states. Therefore, beneficiaries are not lifting foodgrains as part of Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) and the National Food Security Act

What should be done to avert the threat to food security?

There is a need for an extension of the PMGKAY. This needs to be supplemented with adequate stocks and restoration of the original allocations and preparation of contingency plan.

The government must ensure adequate food supply and improve efficiency in distribution.

In addition, proactive steps are needed to increase the incomes of farmers in our drought and disease-affected states. This can be done with preparation for higher procurement during the kharif season.

Ensuring food security to the poor will protect them from another impending global food crisis and would also be important for alleviating distress in our rural economy.

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