food security causes stagnation

punjab is the lone exception among food surplus states: all the others, like uttar pradesh, bihar, west bengal, haryana, andhra pradesh etc., have higher undernourishment rates than kerala. and the article i'd referred to in this post points out:
What then explains the high levels of child malnutrition in India? Answers lie in looking beyond income levels, economic expansion, conventional poverty, and food availability.
so, why discuss issues like food availability etc., again? because any discussion on undernourishment among children is inevitably guided, by the brahminized left, towards a debate on hunger (which is okay) and then towards food security (things start becoming unstoppably hazier, at this point) and then onto a discussion on the pds, minimum support prices, subsidies, evil neoliberal policies, globalization and so on. so, i wanted to re-emphasize the irrelevance of the issue of food availability in any discussion on undernourishment among children. food availability, i repeat, is irrelevant to undernourishment. at least, not directly relevant.

so, it doesn't matter whether you have an efficient pds (as in kerala) or a barely patronized pds (as in punjab) : it isn't directly relevant to the issue, in my view. in other words, what governments do to increase food production and availability (which is what food security is about) might have nothing to do with how undernourished the children in a state, or the country, are.

but central government policy on food security affects the people of different states in different ways. kerala produces half as much rice as it did in 1961, because most of its farmers, steadily over the years, are actually leaving agriculture instead of trying to increase production. and in the states which have increased production, by two-three times etc., over the last fifty years, a majority of the farmers are still stuck in agriculture.

in kerala, the children are better fed because people have grown more aware, while in the food surplus states, the farmers have been producing more to consume less and remain ignorant.

food security causes stagnation.


gaddeswarup said...

some vague observations.
This seems to be an intriguing problem; how far should one go with food security? I read a few months ago the 1989 report:
by the U.S. congressional Budget office. They say on pages 39-40:
"Food security does not imply self-sufficiency at any cost, but having the resources to meet short-term supply disruptions.
International trade is a key element of any nation's food security. In general, depending on their specific resource endowment, agriculture-based economies should supply most of their own staple food needs."
I guess that the problem is the fear of too much dependence on outsiders if there is no food security. But you are talking of different states with in one big country and I think that there is more flexibilty in such a case. Perhaps several other factors on development have to be taken in to account but I am not sure exactly what these are.

kuffir said...

swarup garu,

i've been thinking about your comment, especially the last para. if i understand it correctly, what you're trying to say is that this fixation with food security (in india)is unnecessary. is that correct?

well, that is exactly the point i've been driving at in this post (and this series of posts).

the second more important issue is that the food security oriented policy framework has, over the past three decades, severely eroded the capabilities of each state in india- it has neither made surplus states richer nor helped the deficit states become more productive.

that's only one minor result of our food security policy..there are several more harmful effects of those policies (which i hope to look at in my next post/s).

gaddeswarup said...

Let me see. Roughly, I think that fixation on food security may hurt development as a whole. On the otherhand, too much dependence on foreign countries for food may be tricky in times of conflict. A big country like India may be able to find a balance.

gaddeswarup said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gaddeswarup said...

During the recent food scarcity scare, there have been suggestions about encouraging more diverse crops like traditional dry land crops and newer varities. There were reports in SciDev.net, Overseas Development Institute news etc. Malapati Raja sekhar of 'Rural Development of India' blog http://ruralindia.blogspot.com/
thinks that growing Baobao may be useful. Recently Amaranth proved to be a big pest for cotton and has become resistent to Monsanto RoundUp in USA. But in Africa variants of this are used for food. That is another possibiity. I have only followed these in outline and can look for some references if needed.

ayub said...

can't agree with your views on certain aspect.You siad kerala is food secure eventhough they produce less due to their awareness as well as you can say high purchasing power.It's OK if you follow your definition of fod security.But food security, as you said, is not all about food availablity and productionalone.Food security means when all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life(FAO).In this context I would like to say that Kerala is the worst state affected by food security because the food used by keralites are imported from other states which is not safe due to high content of poisnous insecticide and other harmful chemical residues where as those people who produces grain or vegetable are not using it instead they use only the produce which is not subjected to harmul fertlizers or pesticides.

kuffir said...


'It's OK if you follow your definition of fod security.But food security, as you said, is not all about food availablity and productionalone.'

excuse me - that's not my definition of food security, it's the areas all governments in india usually focus on. and what i'm trying to say is- kerala is more secure than andhra pradesh without having to ensure a certain level of production every year.

as for 'harmful inputs' used in production etc., everyone is harmed by it. your arguments don't disprove what i was trying to say- food security causes stagnation.

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