There is no shortage of food grains and food articles such as vegetables, milk, sugar, in the country, but due to poor distribution the supply to the targeted beneficiaries is getting majorly affected.
Noted agriculture economist and former Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) vice-chancellor, SS Johl said this in his inaugural address at the 4th national seminar 'Water and Food Security in India' held at the Khalsa College for Education here on Friday.
The seminar was organised by the Institute of Development Planning (IDP) under the ageis of the Indian Society of Agriculture Economics.
"In spite of rapid increase in population, the per capita availability of food grains and protective foods has improved. But corruption and diversion of grains and other essential commodities meant for the poor in the open market by mafias followed by mis-management of stocks are affecting grain distribution to the targeted families,"added Johl while referring to the major hurdles that the government's food security mission would be up against.
Pointing out various loopholes in the public distribution system (PDS) of the country, Johl said, "As per a World Bank survey, only 41% of the grains meant for public distribution reached the targeted beneficiaries. Both in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Punjab this figure is only 20%."
He pointed out that in UP food grains worth 14.5 billion US dollars were looted some politicians and their criminal syndicates over the last decade by way of diversion of the grains to markets of Kolkata and Nepal.
With reference to wastage of food grains and management of food stocks, he regretted that till date the country could not create proper storage and management system that would ensure scientific and safe storage free from damage due to weather and insects.
Prices and inflation
Johl pointed out that in spite of increased availability of food grains, the prices have been rising, especially in the last decade. This adversely affected the access of the majority of the population to food, he added while pointing out that 50% of the population in the country could not have two square meals a day.
He also held the retail market responsible for inflation. He called for a corporate system in retail in which the farmers were partners.
Another former PAU V-C, Manjit Singh Kang spoke on the subsidies for power, fertilizers and water which have led to increased food grain production. However these subsidies have adversely impacted the groundwater, the soil and environment scenario in Punjab, he added.
Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) V-C AS Brar, state director agriculture, Mangal Singh Dhillon, principal, Khalsa College for Education, Jaswinder Singh Dhillon and IDP chairman TS Chahal also spoke on the occasion.