Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Internationally India is one the top food importing countries in the world  with a substantial portion of its requirements of pulses and edible oils coming from outside its boundaries and though this situation is continuing since 3 decades no palliative steps have been taken by the governments ruling the country at different point of time except for pompous and meaningless statements. It is just laughable that a few private entrepreneurs are globe trotting trying to solve India's food problems through leasing out foreign lands, especially in Africa while the real answer lies within the country. Here is a fabulous critique on the misguided and senseless policy orchestrations being pursued by successive governments with limited farsightedness!  

Sound food policy should be a priority for India, on track for the world's largest population by 2025. India has also achieved status as a major food exporter with rice, wheat and buffalo beef. Indian policies emphasize minimum support prices for farmers and subsidized crops for the poor, but these in turn spur food inflation, price volatility, overproduction of grains and overworked land. The government purchases about one third of all cereal output, yet pro-cereal policies hinder production of non-cereals like fruits, vegetables and dairy products, which benefits other export nations like Canada or Australia. Despite misgivings by economists, a food security bill guaranteeing low prices for more than two thirds of India's population is winding its way through parliament. "The end result of these policies will be India's forced integration into global agricultural markets, not only as a grain importer, but also as a leading buyer of non-cereal commodities," explains Deepak Gopinath, director of a research service on emerging markets. Global markets won't provide special pricing for India's poor.

Is it not rue that the country is being burdened by unwanted surplus food grains which neither serves domestic food security nor the export business of the country. Endless encouragement to a section of farmers who over utilize the resources of the country on non-priority food as well as non food crops has resulted in gross shortage of health protecting foods like fruits, vegetables and pulses besides raising their price beyond the reach of most citizens. To day in most urban markets no fruit is available, with the exception of Papaya, at a price less than Rs 50 per kg with fruits like apple pomegranate, strawberry etc commanding prices above Rs 100 per kg. Similarly almost all vegetables are sold at prices ranging from Rs 30 to Rs 60 per kg! Ironically the farmers who grow them are reported to be getting only a fraction of the consumer price, a major portion of it being gobbled by the so called middlemen! Unfortunately GOI does not seem to be unduly concerned and there is not yet any evidence that this issue will be addressed seriously in the near future. GOI is obsessed with only grains, formulating schemes after schemes to supply these commodities practically free to the population incurring huge subsidies draining the exchequer. Under these circumstances no one knows what lies ahead for the citizens of this country under political masters who cannot see any thing beyond their nose (or purse?). 

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