Odisha Food Security

Odisha Food Security

Food security can be described as a phenomenon relating to individuals and can be defined by nutritional status of the individual household member that is the ultimate focus, and the risk of that adequate status not being achieved or becoming undermined.

Food Security can defined as

Food security 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. Household food security is the application of this concept to the family level, with individuals within households as the focus of concern.

Food insecurity exists when people do not have adequate physical, social or economic access to food as defined above.

Food security includes at a minimum:

  • the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food and
  • an assured ability to acquire acceptable food in socially acceptable ways.

Food security is not guaranteed merely by adequate food grain production or even by food availability. It is more fundamentally linked to effective access to food, both physically and economically. Broadly speaking, livelihood security and livelihood access are important determinants of food access. According to observation made by M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation and World Food Progamme 2001, “If people have access to livelihood, they would in general have access to food and nutrition.

Various factors contribute to the food insecurity in the state before the Food Security Act. In Orissa, a combination of economic, social, ecological and institutional factors contribute to food insecurity. Because of high level of incidence of poverty & income disparity, inadequate employment opportunity in lean season, a large tribal population living in remote areas with poor connectivity, coupled with periodic occurrence of drought & flood, Odisha has been put in the category of severely food insecure regions. It has been pointed out that sever food insecurity in Orissa is primarily due to the presence of vulnerable rural population who are basically Schedule Caste & Schedule Tribe with poor & marginal livelihood assets or livelihood susceptible to natural disasters.

Orissa is the state with population of 41.97 million as per 2011 census. About 23 percent of the population comprise indigenous tribal population, mostly concentrated in the north-western and south-western districts, the former comprising of Sundargarh, Keonjhar & Mayurbhanj districts account for 35.3% of state tribal population & the south western district of Koraput, Kalahandi, Phulbani & Bolangir account for another 39.4%. Their traditional practices using natural resource like land, water and forest as a means of livelihood support are becoming gradually inadequate for their needs. Due to degradation of forest, supplies of non timber forest products (NTFP) has reduced and house hold income have become grossly inadequate. 20-50% of the tribal household income per annum comes from the non-timber forest produce.

Majority of the area constitutes tribal area and also number of scheduled caste constitute 16% of the state. With incomes insufficient to buy food, many of the households are in debts and are in food-insecure category. Currently these tribal households have limited access to any form of safety net or food security. In fact this is the scenario all over the country. Tribal communities are among the most underprivileged sections of the Indian population. Ranking abysmally low in respect of most human development indicators they are a socially and politically marginalized community. Similar is the fact of scheduled caste who constitutes a little more than 16 percent of the State population. Unlike the tribal population they are mostly concentrated in the four coastal districts of Balalsore, Cuttack, Ganjam and Puri.

Overwhelmingly, these two groups of people are landless or functionally landless. These groups often live in isolated rural areas and have little access to mainstream development or subsidized food from the public Distribution system. The process of modernization largely marginalized them in economic terms, thereby further threatening their livelihood security.

National Food Security Act , 2013 (NFSA)

Government has passed the National Food Security Act, 2013  with the objective to provide for food and nutritional security in human by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity. The Act provides for coverage of up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized food grains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), thus covering about two-thirds of the population. The eligible persons will be entitled to receive 5 Kgs of food grains per person per month at subsidized prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains. The existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, will continue to receive 35 Kgs of food grains per household per month.Odisha Food Security

The Act also has a special focus on the nutritional support to women and children. Besides meal to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, such women will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.

Children up to 14 years of age will be entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards.

In case of non-supply of entitled food grains or meals, the beneficiaries will receive food security allowance.

The Act also has provisions for setting up of grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels. Separate provisions have also been made in the Act for ensuring transparency and accountability.

Food Security Act in the State

The state government urged the Centre to increase the upper ceiling limit of beneficiaries for Odisha under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

With maximum 82.17 per cent of rural population and 55.77 per cent of urban population, Odisha has been allotted an upper ceiling limit of nearly 3.26 crore individuals under the NFSA.

The state government carried out beneficiary identification of eligible households using the 2011 census data. Odisha’s population according to 2011 census was over 4.19 crore. So it will benefit the poor districts of the state.

Odisha Government has Defined the Exclusion criteria for National Food Security Act so that it will benefit the poorest of the people in the state the most.

The Odisha Government have spelt out the eligibility criteria for identifying eligible households to be covered under the National Food Security Act, which aims to provide subsidized food grain to 75 per cent rural and 50 per cent urban poor.

In fact, the Odisha Government has set up a task force to implement the Act, which has suggested ‘exclusion’ criteria for households, and has invited public comments.

According to the public announcement, owners of motor vehicles, two-wheelers, three-wheelers and registered fishing boats, mechanized three- or four-wheeler agricultural equipment, such as tractors will be excluded from the Act. Families with any member with monthly income above Rs. 10,000, pension holder getting Rs. 10,000 a month, any member paying income or professional tax will not be eligible, according to the task force. Families with a landline connection and electricity connection with 2KW or more using more than 300 units a month will also not get benefits under the Act.

The exclusion criteria also includes any family which has a member who is a Government employee in Central, State, public sector or autonomous institutions aided by Government and the municipality, says the notice by the State department of food supply and consumer welfare.

The Food Security Act which is termed as a ‘game changer’ by the UPA-II Government,  the State Governments need to draw their own parameters to identify the beneficiaries. The Act, which made food a legal right, got Presidential assent in September 2013, and gave one year to the States for its implementation.

Biggest challenge of the country is to feed over 1.25 billion people. Despite economic growth and self-sufficiency in food grains production, high levels of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition persist in India . The National Food Security Act (NFSA) passed in 2013 is a milestone in the history of India’s fight against hunger and malnutrition, as it claims to feed more than 800 million Indians with highly subsidized food grains. There is economy wide impact of NFSA on the Indian economy. It estimates  the labor requirement, GDP growth, and indirect impact on the other sector of the economy.