Food Security in India: Problems and Prospects

10 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2016

See all articles by Shaleen Jain

Shaleen Jain

Hidayatullah National Law University

Date Written: January 30, 2016


The concept of Food Security is multi-dimensional. Food security exists when all when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preference for an active and healthy life. Ensuring food and nutrition security is a challenge for India given its huge population and high level of poverty and malnutrition.

This paper examines performance, issues, challenges and policies in food security in terms of availability, accessibility and affordability. In particular the paper addresses the following questions: (1) What is the advancement in supply side of food as far as accessibility at national level? (2) What are the policies that India is following as has followed in achieving food security? (3) What ought to be done to acknowledge food security for all citizens of India?

This study adopted descriptive methodology to demonstrate the term food security and its scenario in India. It relied on upon auxiliary information from books, references, and in writing in subject to analyzing the data submitted by FCI and Food Security Portal and Food and agriculture Organization. The present paper attempts to analyze some issues related to food security in India and suggest some ways to achieve food and nutritional security in India for overall growth of an individual and sound and sustainable development of Indian economy.

Food is considered among basic amenities essential for the sustenance and growth of an individual. It has three dimensions (a) food availability- total food production including imports and buffer stocks maintained in government granaries like FCI. (b) Food accessibility- food should be made available or should be in reach of each and every person (c) food affordability- an individual should have enough amount of money to purchase proper, safe, healthy and nutritious food to meet his dietary needs. In the recently released Global Hunger Index, 2014 India ranked 55th out of 120 countries and this report is quite disturbing since India is one of the largest producers of food grains in the world. Still India lacks in fulfilling the basic amenities of its people. India is home of 25 per cent of hungry population. It has been well established that India has become self-sufficient in food availability. Hence India can take pride in being able to fulfill the present demand with indigenous production. But the fact is that there are millions of people below poverty line who are unable to get square meals per day and according to recent data approximately 320 million people in India go to bed without food and the data is very alarming and situation is going even worse. The crux of India’s food problem pertains not so much on increasing food availability but with the distribution of food. There are various challenges which India faces in attaining food security. Natural calamities like excessive rain fall, accessibility of water for irrigation purpose, drought, soil erosion, undulating topography and various soil types such as degraded soil, infertile soil, acidic & alkaline soil, non-improvement in agriculture facilities, growth in population, lack of education and job opportunities have further added to the problems. Another challenge which India faces in attaining food security is dependence on monsoon as well as labor on daily wages basis which tends to be variable on different times thus food procurement and access is fluctuating. The income of the family governs the access to food affordability and inflation acts as fuel in fire. PDS (Public Distribution is not satisfactorily functioning hampering distribution of food at low prices.

Thus there is a need to shift from the current inefficient, expensive, perennial and corruption ridden institutional arrangements to those that will guarantee cheap delivery and distribution of requisite qualities of food grains in a transparent manner. To curb existing problems of food security the government has implemented various programs. In the backdrop the government of India enacted new Act i.e. the National Food Security Act, 2013 which aims to provide subsidized food to approximately two thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people. The bill is considered as the biggest ever experiment in the world for distributing highly subsidized food for any government through a “right based approach”. The proposed bill aims to provide legal right over subsidized food grain to around 67 per cent of the population. Despite its advantages the bill has been severely criticized since it will use extremely “leaky” PDS to distribute food grains. The cost of food grains is rising globally then how would the government be able to provide subsidized food to 70 per cent of Indian population in the situation of inappropriate climate conditions? In nutshell, despite ensuring ample availability of food, existence of food insecurity at the micro-level in the country has remained a formidable challenge for India.

Keywords: Food security; Food Corporation of India (FCI); India; malnutrition; Public Distribution System (PDS)

Suggested Citation

Jain, Shaleen, Food Security in India: Problems and Prospects (January 30, 2016). OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 11-20, 2016, Available at SSRN:

Shaleen Jain (Contact Author)

Hidayatullah National Law University ( email )

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Near Raj Bhawan
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