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Born after a famine, India a foodgrain exporter now

Jun 28, 2022

While It Has A Surplus Of Rice And Wheat, The Country Needs To Raise Production Of Pulses And Edible Oil, Writes Atul Thakur

At the time of Independence, just four years after the 1943 Bengal Famine had claimed millions of lives, India was divided into two countries. The new India got 82% of the population but only 75% of the cereal production of the undivided country. So, food security was a major concern from the beginning, and the Foodgrains Policy Commission was created in 1947. Despite the commission’s recommendations, foodgrain production plateaued by the late 1950s. The Green Revolution spurred it in the 1960s with high-yield varieties and a more scientific approach to agriculture, and Food Corporation of India stabilised agricultural prices with market intervention and price support. Because of these steps, India is now a net exporter of foodgrains

Import-dependent for 30 years

In 1951, India’s net import of foodgrains was over 40 lakh tonnes, and right up to the 1980s, despite the Green Revolution, it remained a net importer of food

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More cereals for everyone

Per capita availability of cereals has steadily risen from 334g per day in the 1950s to 465g now

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Not growing enough pulses, though

India is unable to grow enough pulses to meet its domestic demand and still imports them in large quantities, although the imports have dipped in recent years

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Less dal per person

Daily per capita availability of pulses today remains below the 1950s’ level, although it has been improving over the past 20 years. This is a major nutritional concern because most Indians get theirprotein from dal

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Distribution a bigger concern now

Today, India’s surplus rice, wheat, etc, earn foreign exchange but ironically, millions of Indians are hungry and malnourished. Experts say a more efficient public distribution system could address this issue.

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