Food Security & Public Distribution System(PDS)

WHO Defines Food security to exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
food securityFood security has three interlinked contents such as :-

  1. Availability of food,
  2. Access to food and
  3. absorption of food.

Food security is a multidimensional concept covering even the  micro level household food security,energy intakes and indicators of malnutrition.


Major components of food security are:-

  1. Production and Procurement
  2. Storage
  3. Distribution

Indian Agriculture is rightly called as a gamble with Monsoon, variability in food production and rising population creates food insecurity in the nation and worst effected are the downtrodden section of the society.

While India has seen impressive economic growth in recent years, the country still struggles with widespread poverty and hunger. India’s poor population amounts to more than 300 million people, with almost 30 percent of India’s rural population living in poverty. The good news is, poverty has been on the decline in recent years. According to official government of India estimates, poverty declined from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 29.8% in 2009-10.

Need for Self-Sufficiency:

India suffered two very severe droughts in 1965 and 1966. Food Aid to India was restricted to a monthly basis by USA under the P.L. 480 programme.  The Green Revolution made a significant change in the scene. India achieved self-sufficiency in food grains by the year 1976 through the implementation of the seed- water-fertilizer policy adopted by the Government of India.

Food grain production increased four-fold during 1950-51 and 2001-2002 from 51 million tons to 212 million tones. The country is no longer exposed to real famines. But the regional variation in the success of Green Revolution which was chiefly limited to northern- Western states has lead to the divide in the nation. Evergreen revoloution and Bringing green revolution to eastern India is the need of the hour.

Green revolution was focused on wheat and rice and thus the production of pulses was stagnant.

National Food Security Mission comprising rice, wheat and pulses to increase the production of rice by 10 million tons, wheat by 8 million tons and pulses by 2 million tons by the end of the Eleventh Plan (2011-12). The Mission is being continued during 12th Five Year Plan with new targets of additional production of food grains of 25 million tons of food grains comprising of 10 million tons rice, 8 million tons of wheat, 4 million tons of pulses and 3 million tons of coarse cereals by the end of 12th Five Year Plan.
The National Food Security Mission (NFSM) during the 12th Five Year Plan will have five components

(i) NFSM- Rice;

(ii) NFSM-Wheat;

(iii) NFSM-Pulses,

(iv) NFSM-Coarse cereals and

(v) NFSM-Commercial Crops.

Government through Public Distribution System has tried to counter the problem of food insecurity by providing the food grains through fair price shops.

The central Government through Food Corporation of India has assumed the responsibilities of  procurement,storage,transfer and bulk allocation of food grains to state governments.

The public distribution system (PDS) has played an important role in attaining higher levels of the household food security and completely eliminating the threats of famines from the face of the country, it will be in the fitness of things that its evolution, working and efficacy are examined in some details.

PDS was initiated as a deliberate social policy of the government with the objectives of:

i) Providing foodgrains and other essential items to vulnerable sections of the society at resonable (subsidised) prices;

ii) to have a moderating influence on the open market prices of cereals, the distribution of which constitutes a fairly big share of the total marketable surplus; and

iii) to attempt socialisation in the matter of distribution of essential commodities.


The focus of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) is on “poor in all areas” and TPDS involves issue of     35 Kg of food grains per family per month for the population Below Poverty Line (BPL) at specially subsidized prices. The TPDS requires the states to Formulate and implement :-

  1. foolproof arrangements for identification of poor,
  2. Effective delivery of food grains to Fair Price Shops (FPSs)
  3. Its distribution in a transparent and accountable manner at the FPS level.


India is the third largest producer of cereals, with only China and the USA ahead of it. India occupies the first position in milk production and is the third largest producer of fish and second largest producer of inland fisheries in the world. According to ministry of Agriculture ,India is likely to produce a record 273.38 million tonnes of food grains 2016/17, slightly higher than the previous estimate of 271.98 million tonnes.

Economic growth is typically accompanied by improvements in a country’s food supply, both quantitative and qualitative, and a gradual reduction in nutritional deficiencies.  It also brings about changes in the production, processing, distribution and marketing of food. Diets evolve over time and are influenced by factors such as income, prices, individual preferences and beliefs, cultural traditions, as well as geographical, environmental, social and economic factors.

India faces a greater food challenge – having only 2.3 per cent share in world’s total land area it has to ensure food security to about 17.5 per cent of the world’s population. Total foodgrain production is estimated at an all-time high of 272 million tonnes in 2016-17, 8% higher than the 251.6 million tonnes last year, and surpassing the previous record of 265 million tonnes in 2013-14.

Wheat production is estimated to rise by 4.7% to 96.6 million tonnes in 2016-17 (compared to 92.3 million tonnes in 2015-16),

Production of pulses is likely to rise 35% from 16.4 million tonnes last year to 22.1 million tonnes in 2016-17.

Production of rice, the most popular staple, is estimated to increase by over 2 million tonnes, from 104.4 million tonnes last year to 106.7 million tonnes in 2016-17.

As per 2nd Advance Estimates, the estimated production of major crops during 2016-17 is as under:

Foodgrains  –  271.98 million tonnes (record)

  • Rice  –  108.86  million tonnes (record)
  • Wheat – 96.64 million tonnes (record)
  • Coarse Cereals  –  44.34 million tonnes (record)
  • Maize  –  26.15 million tonnes (record)
  • Pulses  –  22.14 million tonnes (record)
  • Gram – 9.12 million tonnes
  • Tur  –  4.23 million tonnes (record)
  • Urad  –  2.89 million tonnes (record)

Oilseeds  –  33.60 million tonnes (record)

  • Soyabean  –  14.13 million tonnes
  • Groundnut  –  8.47 million tonnes
  • Castorseed – 1.74 million tonnes

Cotton  –  32.51 million bales (of 170 kg each)

Sugarcane – 309.98 million tonnes

Benefiting from the green revolution technologies introduced in 1965-66, the per capita net availability of foodgrains per annum in India increased from 144.1 kg per capita per year in 1951 to a peak of 186.2 kg per capita per year in 1991. Post-1990s though, there is a clear decline in the per capita foodgrain availability which has declined to 160.1 kg per capita per year in 2010.

Since agricultural growth is limited, imports can help improve the country’s supply situation for a short term. But for the long term, the country will need to focus on productivity enhancement, through public investment in irrigation, research and efficient use of water, plant nutrition and other inputs.

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