Implementing the Food Security Act: Prof M S Swaminathan

Chennai, May 20, 2016: I am happy that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament has decided to prepare a report on the implementation of the Food Security Act.  The National Food Security Act is a unique one and make our farmers proud since they were mainly responsible for taking our country from the days of the Bengal Famine to the time we can confer the legal right to food with home grown food. This transition is probably unique in the world history. I am happy that Dr K V Thomas who was Food Minister while the Act was developed is now heading the PAC. I would suggest that the following unique features of the Bill should be examined in the context of implementation

  •  The Bill provides for a whole life cycle approach in terms of food security. This will require particular attention to the first thousand days of a child’s life which are critical for brain development and later cognitive abilities
  •  The senior most woman in the household will be designated the Head of the Household from the point of view of food entitlements
  •  Enlargement of the Food Basket by including nutri-millets and other neglected crops in the Public Distribution System (PDS)
  •  The pricing, procurement and PDS should involve millets, including jowarbajra and ragi. It will also be appropriate to redesignate the so called coarse grains as nutri-rich climate smart cereals.

I hope PAC will also take into consideration the good features enshrined in the Chhattisgarh Act such as provision of pulses, and biofortified salt, so that protein hunger and micronutrient malnutrition can also be addressed simultaneously. The review by PAC provides a unique opportunity for strengthening the Bill and improving its administration and delivery systems, so that we can achieve the Zero Hunger Target soon.