The trade, industrial and food security ministries should work together

It was encouraging to read about three politicians – finance, power and environment ministers – collaborating in the decision-making process, as they did when scrutinising the proposed Himalayan hydel project. The government’s National Food Security Mission needs similar cross-sector input, from finance, trade and industry departments.

Trade policies are at cross-purposes with the Food Security Mission

Devinder Sharma writes that there is confusion on the food security front. On one hand the government is thinking of encouraging the private sector to cultivate oilseeds and pulses in Myanmar and Latin America and import it into India; on the other it has launched a Rs 4,883-crore National Food Security Mission to bolster India’s production of wheat, rice, oilseeds and pulses.

India was almost self-sufficient in edible oils in 1993-94. Ever since the government began lowering the tariffs, edible oil imports have multiplied, turning the country into the biggest importer. Small farmers growing oilseeds in the rainfed areas of the country had to abandon production in the light of cheaper imports.

The government has been steadily reducing the import tariffs on edible oils to make it cheaper for the domestic consumers, thereby destroying the production capacity within the country. At the same time, it intends to pump in resources to improve productivity of oilseeds in the hope that the imports of edible oils can be reduced in the years to come. How can this be possible? Does it not mean that the government programmes in reality work at cross-purposes?

Commercial, financial and industrial policies are also at cross-purposes with the Food Security Mission

On another front, land acquisition has become a politically motivated issue. While all kinds of options are being thrown up regarding how to make land acquisition economically worthwhile for the displaced, no one is talking of its impact on food security. If the land continues to be built on at the prevailing rate, where will the country produce food for its growing population?

Full post by Devinder Sharma to Ground Reality


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