The article “Coping with rising foodgrain prices” and the cartoon (Dec. 16) should draw the government’s attention. Scientists have been expressing the serious concern that water-intensive crops such as paddy are more vulnerable to climate change-induced stress. While the measures suggested by V.S. Vyas should guide the government’s immediate action, its long-term initiative should be aimed at guiding a change in the diet pattern. Targeted PDS in the regions where rice is consumed heavily should include millets such as ragi, jower and bajra which are more nutritious and more climate-change resistant. The government and society have a responsibility to educate people.
We should have an officer of the rank of Chief Secretary to co-ordinate and supervise the activities of the Departments of Agriculture, Food, Revenue, Civil Supplies, and Consumer Protection. The supply of rice at Rs.1 a kilo up to 20 kg to the affluent sections (as is being done in Tamil Nadu) should be stopped. It should be confined to the BPL families. Existence of bogus ration cards offers scope for the diversion of rice to the open market. They should be eliminated through a vigorous drive.
Public distribution system is a crucial instrument in the hands of the government. The Food Corporation of India plays an important role in food management. There is an urgent need to strengthen its administration and make it more professional. We can then feed the nation during a crisis too.
Yogesh S. Thorat,