Food Security

  • Farm loan waiver for food security: Chidambaram

    High domestic and global prices still pose inflationary threat Rebutting the charge by India Inc. that the Union budget ignored the corporate sector, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday defended the proposed farm loan waiver scheme in the name of food security, saying high domestic and global prices still posed an inflationary threat. "One of the reasons why inflation is still a threat is food price in India,' he said during a post-budget interaction with industry chambers here. "If we grow enough food to feed our people, we are insulated from world prices, but if we are dependent on imports we are subject to world prices,' he said, noting that after a long gap, India had become a marginal importer of foodgrains, which was a dangerous omen. "No country with as large a population as India can be dependent on imports [of foodgrains].' Buttressing his point, Mr. Chidambaram noted that since April last year, the global prices of wheat and rice had risen by 88 and 15 per cent. "Taking all this into account, we came to the conclusion that the distress of the farmers calls for an unorthodox response. And the response was farm loan waiver.' Referring to the corporates' charge, the Minister said: "I have not forgotten the corporate sector. Despite the advice given by my Chief Economic Adviser and the suggestion in the Economic Survey, we accepted your demand for retaining peak customs duty rate.' The corporates would also indirectly benefit from proposals such as excise duty cuts and relief given to personal income-tax payers as these, in turn, would spur demand for consumer goods. The Central Sales Tax, a levy on inter-State sale of goods, was also proposed to be reduced from three to two per cent in the next fiscal. Besides, the budget sought to lift the tax deducted at source (TDS) from listed corporate debt as also avoid double taxation on dividends paid by domestic companies and their subsidiaries. Tax sops A number of tax sops were provided to the hotel and hospitality industry. "What we have done is sufficient to keep the engine of growth running at full speed

  • Transforming rural livelihoods in India

    <p>This report presents an overview of the impact of rural livelihood programmes supported by DFID in the context of the Millennium Development Goals, and explores some of the lessons learned under headings of income generation and rural growth, better management of natural resources, targeting the poorest and marginalised, and local institutions and self-governance.

  • Cubans launched local organic farming experiment

    Sir, Christopher Caldwell argues in his column of February 23/24 against any benefit from Fidel Castro's regime.

  • Towards increasing rice production

    At present about 2.5% of agriculture GDP is contributed by rice, earning a foreign exchange of Rs 7000 crores. India also needs production enhancement for feeding soaring population growth. Rice production from irrigated area is almost stagnant. Rainfed area needs to be exploited.

  • Agriculture security: How to attain it

    This article emphasizes the virtual synonimity of agriculture security, food security, farmers' security, and security of the rural sector, and the importance of ensuring the above to ensure national security.

  • Securing sustainable small-scale fisheries

    A global conference on small-scale fisheries that will highlight responsible fisheries and social development will be held 13-17 October 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. The 4SSF Conference will have a broad scope allowing for the discussion of a wide range of issues including, inter alia, wider social and economic development and human-rights issues, governance, fisheries policy processes and systems, fisheries management approaches, and market access aspects and means of increasing postharvest benefits.

  • Agrofuels and land distribution: towards a rights based approach to food security

    This policy note analyses current European agrofuel policies in terms of their effects on nature and poverty. It argues that agrofuels are exacerbating climate change and that their development is infringing on the land rights of the poor, thus exacerbating poverty. Agrofuels are infringing on the intrinsic existence right of nature, as well as on the right of the poor to sufficient land to produce food.

  • Loss of dynamism in agriculture

    Pointing to the "loss of dynamism' in agriculture and allied sectors, the 2007-08 Economic Survey calls for a "second green revolution,' particularly in rainfed areas, to rejuvenate the sector and improve the income of those dependent on it. "Any deceleration in the growth of this sector is translated into a lower overall Gross Domestic Product growth.' "The share of agriculture in the GDP registered a steady decline from 36.4 per cent in 1982-83 to 18.5 per cent in 2006-07. Yet this sector continues to support more than a billion people providing employment to 52 per cent of the workforce,' notes the survey. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector is estimated to grow at 2.6 per cent during 2007-08 against the previous year's growth of 3.8 per cent. Apart from weather fluctuations, output has been affected on account of reduced capital investment and plateauing out of yield in major crops. The target growth rate for the farm sector is four per cent. In 2007-08, the overall production of foodgrains is expected to be short of the target by 2.2 million tonnes though 10.1 million tonnes higher than the second estimates for 2006-07. Kharif output is expected to be 5.3 million tonnes in 2006-07 while rabi production is expected to be lower by 3.3 million tonnes. Broadly, the survey points out, there was a shortfall in the target of production of foodgrains, pulses and oilseeds from 2000-01 to 2006-07. The production of foodgrains was 93 per cent of the target. During the period, the actual output of pulses on average was 87.7 per cent of target and of oilseeds, 85.3 per cent. Production of sugarcane and cotton, however, exceeded targets. Expressing concern over the low growth of agriculture compared to non-farm sectors, the survey says the gap has begun widening since 1981-82 and more particularly since 1996-97, due to the acceleration in the growth of the industry and services sector. Between 1950-51 and 2006-07, production of foodgrains increased at an annual rate of 2.5 per cent compared to the population growth rate, which averaged at 2.1 per cent, as a result of which India was self-sufficient in foodgrains till 2005-06. The scenario, however, changed between 1990 and 2007 when the rate of growth of foodgrains production fell to 1.2 per cent, which was lower than the average population growth rate of 1.9 per cent. During the period, the per capita consumption of cereals declined from peak 468 gm per day in 1990-91 to 412 gm in 2005-06. The consumption of pulses declined from 42 to 33 gm. There has been a "considerable decline' in the rate of growth of area, production, productivity and the area irrigated for major crops. The area under production of foodgrains over 16 years witnessed an average annual decline of 0.26 per cent during the period from 1989-90 to 2005-06, largely because of a shift from coarse grains. At the same time, there has been a continuous decline in the rate of creation in irrigation potential, adding to the deceleration in farm growth. New schemes The government has recently launched the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, which gives flexibility to States to evolve their own schemes provided they invest in the sector. A National Food Security Mission has been introduced to enhance the production of wheat, rice and pulses. The National Agriculture Insurance Scheme and the pilot weather-based insurance programme must be strengthened for wider coverage, says the survey. "Acceleration of growth in this sector will not only push the overall GDP upwards, it would also make the growth more inclusive and biased in favour of women. Increasing farm incomes is also necessary for equitable growth.'

  • Doomsday vault good and ready

    Doomsday vault good and ready

    The first consignment of seeds bound for the

  • Age-based preventive targeting of food assistance and behaviour change & communication for reduction of childhood undernutrition

    Food-assisted maternal and child health and nutrition programmes usually target underweight children younger than 5 years of age. Previous evidence suggests that targeting nutrition interventions earlier in life, before children become undernourished, might be more effective for reduction of childhood undernutrition.

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