India needs to shake off its “false” sense of food security as demand for food will continue to rise as incomes grow, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday.
“For some time past, there was, if I may say so, a false sense of security that availability of food has ceased to be a concern. Similarly, many felt we have been able to control prices,” Singh told chief secretaries from the states in his first meeting with them this year.
Warning of further pressure on supplies, he said: “The state governments must forge appropriate strategies to bolster food production and tackle shortage of essential supplies.”
Boosting farm output is urgent as India will never be free from swings in international prices in a globalised world, the PM said, adding: “Our agricultural productivity still ranks far below the best in the world.”
Last year’s drought — the worst in 30 years — dragged farm growth down to 1.6 per cent in the first two quarters of 2009-10, way below the government’s target of 4 per cent.
Food prices have since gone through the roof due to shortage of sugar, edible oils, rice and lentils. On December 5 last year, food inflation touched an 11-year high of 19.95 per cent.