GUWAHATI, Oct 2 – “National food security requires an increase in the domestic production of food, so that the country is not dependent upon imports. This is not simply a matter of preferred practice but a policy imperative since it has huge strategic implications.”
Acclaimed columnist and academician Dr Jayati Ghosh made the above observation while delivering the Sixth Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Annual Lecture here today. She said that the first priority of a national food policy must be to increase the domestic food production through improved agricultural productivity, which requires making cultivation financially viable.
Speaking on the topic ‘The political economy of hunger in 21st Century India’ Dr Ghosh referred to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2005-06. The survey suggests that 46 per cent children below three years are underweight, 33 per cent women and 28 per cent men have Body Mass Index (BMI) below normal. Further, these indicators have scarcely changed since the previous NFSH in 1998-99.
According to her, the global food crisis is not something that can be treated as discrete and separate from the global financial crisis.
“Two policy factors affecting global food supply require special note. The first is bio-fuel factor – the impact of both oil prices and government policies in US, Europe, Brazil and elsewhere that has promoted bio-fuels as an alternative to petroleum. This has led to significant shifts in acreage to the cultivation of crops that can produce bio-fuels.
“The second factor is policy neglect of agriculture over the past two decades, the impact of which is finally being felt,” she said.
Dr Jayati Ghosh is professor of economics and was former chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She is also a member of the National Knowledge Commission.
The Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Trust is a charitable trust constituted in 2005 for keeping the memory of Brajamohan Sarma alive through activities and performances that aptly reflect the thoughts and philosophies of the noted advocate and acclaimed public figure.