As India is a net importer of pulses, the recent steep increase in the price of pulses, especially toor dal, is the result of the global market conditions. Production loss in countries like Nigeria and Tanzania has played its part in increasing global prices with resultant impact on Indian markets. The only way for India to save itself from similar crisis in future is by increasing productivity through taskforces and technology missions, with pre-determined targets and making the programme implementing terms accountable. Farmers should be encouraged to take up pulses cultivated as a cash crop with supplementary irrigation facilities.
India with its public distribution network and other safety net programmes and through regulating exports is insulated from global food crisis. However, steep price increases in premium quality grains as if ponni rice is a reflection of the developments in the world markets.
Food security and agriculture issues are gaining importance in the wake of global food crisis steep rise in food grain prices. The global food crisis in 2007-08, mainly in south East Asia, and Africa is attributed to several reasons. The diversion of food and feed grains to biofuel production in the US to counter the spiraling fossil fuel prices. This coincided with the crop failures in some of the main grain producing countries like Australia and Ukraine. This led to an initial price hike that triggered the panicky button and speculators predicted continuation of the high prices for at least the next 10 years. Countries like India, China and Vietnam began to react by banning export of rice. Price control measures were used to keep prices low. Private traders who were not part of the incentives price controls of the government system resorted to hoarding creating shortage and prices raised fivefold from the 2005 levels. There were riots and fall of government in many parts of Africa. The food and agriculture organization estimated that over 100 million more people were led to poverty. Even now, grain prices are double the original price.
In any food crisis, the immediate step should be to either protect the poor through safety net programmed or free supplies. In the African countries, there is no safety net or distribution net work. The only possibility is on the spot free food supply. "India adopted safety net programmes in order to face the crisis". Safety net means protecting the poor from food crisis and sociological problems by the government. The government assurance and commitments towards the poor may be called as safety net programmes.
As a medium term measure, arrangements must be made to import food grains through bilateral or multilateral aid agencies and for their distribution, even in inland areas. In spite of these measures, it is possible that several areas would go uncovered and people have to starve. There should be long-term plans for increased local production. Several African countries are doing this by importing and distributing fertilizers at subsidized prices.
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