The Economic Survey has been silent on the proposed National Food Security Bill and the projections of foodgrains needed to provide food security to citizens.
The chapter on Agriculture and Food Management talks of supply-side constraints, the need to feed a growing population, the procurement and off take of foodgrains, buffer stocks of foodgrains, food subsidy, the targeted public distribution system (TPDS), and the central issue price (CIP) of foodgrains, but makes no mention of the proposed bill or any projections of foodgrain availability and requirements for food security.
While providing wheat at Rs.2 and rice at Rs.3 per kilo to beneficiaries of the “reformed” PDS would entail an enhanced food subsidy, the Survey only states that the food subsidy bill had increased substantially in the past few years.
“While the economic cost of wheat and rice has gone up, the issue price has been kept unchanged since July 1, 2002, as a result of which the off take under the TPDS has gone up substantially,” it says.
Under the head ‘TPDS allocation and CIP,' the Survey gives a statement of the quantum of foodgrains allocated to the Below the Poverty Line and Above the Poverty Line populations. There is no mention of poverty figures or PDS beneficiaries under the proposed Bill.
On the rising demand for food items and supply-side slowdown, the Survey says that the agriculture sector is at the “crossroads,” with the need for a “second green revolution” being felt more than ever before.
“Increasing agriculture production and productivity is a necessary condition not only for ensuring national food security, livelihood security and nutrition security but also to sustain the high levels of growth envisaged in the current Plan,” it says.
For agriculture and allied activities to achieve a growth rate of four per cent per year, the sector must grow at 8.5 per cent during 2011-12, it adds.