Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

For India, a lesson in food security from Sri Lanka


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 3- Food security


 India needs to have a strategy of self-reliance in basic foods, including edible oils.

Contrasting cases of Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia

  • Sri Lanka, a country with 21.5 million population imported dairy products valued at $333.8 million in 2020 and $317.7 million in 2021.
  • The island nation’s imports of whole milk powder (WMP) alone were 89,000 tonnes and 72,000 tonnes in these two years.
  •  The 89,000 tonnes of powder imported in 2020 would have, thus, “produced” almost 2.1 million litres per day (MLPD) equivalent of milk.
  • This is as against the 1.3 MLPD that Sri Lanka produces from its own cows and buffaloes.
  • It translates into an import dependence of over 60 per cent.
  • At the other end, we have Saudi Arabia, home to over 35 million inhabitants (including immigrants) and also the world’s largest vertically integrated dairy company.
  • Almarai Company has six dairy farms producing more than 3.5 MLPD of milk.
  • The animals are sourced from the US and Europe.
  • The entire feed and also forage given to them are procured from abroad.
  • Why is Saudi Arabia taking such pains to produce its own milk?
  • The answer is food security.
  • The Saudis — other Persian Gulf countries have also copied the Almarai model — are prepared to pay any price when it comes to ensuring the availability of basic food like milk.

Lessons for India: Reducing import dependence on edible oil

  • India annually imports 13.5-14.5 million tonnes of vegetable oils, again roughly 60 per cent of its total consumption.
  •  Low international prices meant that the import bill, though high, fell from $9.85 billion in 2012-13 to $9.67 billion in 2019-20.
  • However, in the last couple of years, retail prices of most oils more than doubled
  • The value of India’s vegetable oil imports surged to a record $19 billion in 2021-22.


As a country with a population many times that of Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia, India needs to have a strategy of self-reliance in basic foods.

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