Food security entitlement act in India to provide food for the ppor

Toronto, Oct 7 (Calcutta Tube) India will soon be the first country in the world ‘to enact a food security entitlement act under which every family below the poverty line will get 35 kg of grain‘, says M.S. Swaminathan who is in Canada to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Alberta.

One of the pioneers of the Green Revolution in India, Swaminathan said India cannot depend on volatile global markets to ensure its food security and it will have to ramp up its own output.

Swaminathan will receive the honorary doctorate for his contribution to food security in the world.

‘India needs an ever-green revolution which means increasing productivity in perpetuity with no impact on ecology. It means increase in production through productivity improvement as land is shrinking and water getting scarce,’ Swaminathan told IANS Wednesday.

‘The country will have to use cutting-edge technology – remote sensing, the internet, cable and phone networks – to increase farm production and incomes. Our manufacturing, IT and other sectors may be growing very fast, but it will all be meaningless if the farming sector doesn’t grow fast,’ said the renowned scientist, who has been named one of the most important Asians of the 20th century by Time magazine.

Since the Indian farming sector is the largest private enterprise in the world employing about 60 percent of its population, he said he was happy that the government was paying huge attention to this sector through legislation and high-end technology.

‘In fact, India is soon becoming the first country in the world to enact a food security entitlement act under which every family below the poverty line will get 35 kg of grain. Thus, 45 percent of Indians will get wheat at Rs.2 per kg and rice Rs.3 per kg,’ said Swaminathan, who is helping formulate the bill to be introduced in the next parliamentary session.

Described as ‘the father of economic ecology’ by the UN Environment Programme, Swaminathan said: ‘India cannot depend on the global market to feed our 1.2 billion people. This year, Russia banned export of wheat for its needs. So what do we do? India has no option but to depend on its home-grown food.’

Since India is notorious for its food and horticulture wastage owing to lack of cold storage facilities, he said: ‘I have recommended a national grid of 50 ultra-modern grain stores, each with a capacity of one million tonnes. The government is trying to rope in the private sector for this task.’

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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