Report on the State of Food Insecurity in Rural India
In the year 2000, the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation and the World Food Programme began mapping food security in rural and urban India, and studied the factors that govern its sustainability. They published three reports, one of which was the Food Insecurity Atlas of Rural India (April 2001). The Report on the State of Food Insecurity in Rural India is an updated version of the 2001 report.
Both reports adopt the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) definition of food and nutrition security: there is food security when “all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
This report outlines the development of the term ‘food security’ and its use as a conceptual principle, examines the evolution of the food insecurity index and the food and nutrition security status of the states, and looks at the measures taken by the states to ensure food security and how these can improve.
The report states that sanitation facilities and access to safe drinking water are an essential part of food security. Unless they are addressed by panchayati raj institutions and nagar palikas, food security in India will not improve.The report includes chapters on the public distribution system, the Integrated Child Development Scheme, the Mid Day Meal Scheme and policy recommendations.
The report’s index of food and nutrition insecurity in rural India looks at these seven indicators across major states (in percentages):
1) Population consuming less than 1,890 kilo calories per consumer unit (person) per day
2) Households without access to safe drinking water
3) Households without access to toilets within the premises
4) Married women (15-49 years) who are anaemic
5) Women (15-49 years) with chronic energy deficiency
6) Children in the 6-35 month age group who are anaemic
7) Children in the 6-35 month age group who are stunted
In 2004-05, 13.2 per cent of the rural population across 19 states had a daily calorie intake of less than 1,890 Kcal. (The minimum dietary energy requirement for India specified by FAO is 1,820 Kcal per day.) Tamil Nadu had the highest numbers (23.4 per cent of the state’s rural population), Jammu and Kashmir had the lowest (2.4 per cent).
According to Census 2001, 26.8 per cent of rural households across 19 states did not have access to safe drinking water. Kerala topped the list with 83.1 per cent, and the lowest was Punjab at 3.1 per cent.
Census 2001 said that 78 per cent of households across 19 states did not have access to a toilet within their premises. This figure was the highest in Chhattisgarh (95 per cent of the state’s rural households), and the lowest in Kerala (19 per cent).
According to National Family Health Survey 3 (2005-06), 58 per cent of rural women (aged 15-49) across 19 states were anaemic. Assam had the most (69.5 per cent), Kerala had the least (32.4 per cent).
Around 38.8 per cent of rural women (aged 15-49) across 19 states had chronic energy deficiency as per NFHS-3. Jharkhand had the most (48 per cent of the state’s rural women in that age group), Kerala had the least (14 per cent).
Overall, 81.2 per cent of rural children (6-35 months) across 19 states were anaemic. Bihar had the most (89 per cent), while Kerala had the least (58 per cent).
On the whole, 40.7 per cent of rural children (between 6 and 35 months) across 19 states were stunted. Chhattisgarh had the most (48 per cent), Kerala had the least (21 per cent).
A 2005 survey by the ORG Centre for Social Research, New Delhi, found that only 10.5 per cent of respondents in urban areas and 14.6 per cent in rural areas were aware of the selection process under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana. Around 80 per cent were unaware of how below poverty line (BPL) households were identified and selected.
According to a National Sample Survey Office report, in 2004-05, 5.7 per cent of rural households across 19 states had at least one member who had benefited from the Integrated Child Development Scheme for a year. Odisha topped the list (15.5 per cent of its rural households), while Bihar had the least (0.7 per cent).
NSSO data showed that in 2004-05, 28 per cent of rural households across 19 states had at least one member who had benefited from the Mid Day Meal Scheme for a year. Chhattisgarh had the most (40.6 per cent of its rural households) while Jammu and Kashmir had the least (1.3 per cent).
Focus and Factoids by Abizar Shaikh.
World Food Programme
M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation
01 Dec, 2008