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

How Punjab and Haryana remain key to National Food Security?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Trends in wheat and Rice production

Mains level: National food security;

Why in the News? 

The recent drop in agricultural production due to El-Nino has highlighted once more the critical role Punjab and Haryana play in ensuring India’s food security.

Role of Punjab and Haryana for the Food Security of India:

  • Punjab and Haryana are crucial in years with bad monsoons or climate shocks.
  • The average per hectare wheat and paddy yields in these states are 4.8 tonnes and 6.5 tonnes, respectively, significantly higher than the all-India averages of 3.5 tonnes and 4.1 tonnes.

Wheat Production:    

  • Traditional procurement: Until the mid-2000s, Punjab and Haryana supplied over 90% of the wheat for India’s public distribution system (PDS) and other government programs.
  • Impact of the Green Revolution: The spread of high-yielding varieties to other states and the establishment of infrastructure for buying grain at minimum support prices (MSP) reduced Punjab and Haryana’s share to around 65% by the early 2010s.
    • In 2019-20 and 2020-21, total wheat procurement reached record levels (39-43.3 million tons), with Punjab and Haryana’s share falling to just over 50%. Madhya Pradesh became the top wheat procurer in 2019-20, surpassing Punjab.
  • Climate Shocks: The last three years have seen production setbacks due to climate shocks, including: An unseasonal temperature surge in March 2022. Heavy rain in March 2023 during the grain formation stage.

Recent Climate Impact: 

In 2023-24, unusually warm temperatures in November-December impacted wheat yields, especially in central India. The delayed winter, attributed to El Nino, led to premature flowering and shortened the vegetative growth phase.

Regional Impact:

  • Madhya Pradesh’s wheat procurement dropped significantly from 12.8-12.9 million tons in 2019-20 and 2020-21 to about 4.6 million tons.
  • Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan also saw significant declines from their 2020-21 highs.
  • Punjab and Haryana have been less affected due to longer winters and later sowing (early to mid-November).
  • Uttar Pradesh and Bihar reported good production due to near-normal March temperatures, but much of their produce was sold to private traders at prices above the MSP.

Rice production in the states:

  • Traditional Procurement: Government rice procurement was historically concentrated in Punjab, Haryana, and the Godavari-Krishna and Kaveri delta regions of Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Tamil Nadu (TN).
  • Diversification: There has been a diversification in rice procurement, with new states like Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh (UP) becoming significant contributors to the Central pool.
  • Change in Procurement Shares: The combined share of Punjab and Haryana in total rice procurement decreased from 43-44% in the early 2000s to an average of 28.8% in the four years ending 2022-23. In the current crop year, this share has risen to around 32.9%, with some procurements still pending in Telangana, AP, and TN.

Impact of Irrigation:

  • Farmers in Punjab and Haryana, with assured access to irrigation, did not suffer production losses from last year’s patchy monsoon attributed to El Niño.
  • In contrast, states like Telangana saw reduced rabi paddy planting and struggled with irrigation due to depleted groundwater levels.

Policy implications

  • NFSA Entitlements: Under the NFSA, about 813.5 million people are entitled to receive 5 kg of wheat or rice per month through the Public Distribution System (PDS) at highly subsidized prices.
  • Current Government Policy: Since January 2023, the current government has been providing this grain to all NFSA beneficiaries free of cost.

Way Forward:

  • Adoption of Climate-Resilient Varieties: Develop and promote high-yield, climate-resilient wheat varieties that are tolerant to heat, drought, and diseases.
  • Efficient Irrigation Systems: Invest in modern irrigation systems such as drip and sprinkler irrigation to ensure efficient water use.
  • Invest in Agricultural Research: Increase funding for agricultural research institutions to develop new wheat varieties and innovative farming techniques.

Mains PYQ:

Q Why did the Green Revolution in India virtually by-pass the eastern region despite fertile soil and good availability of water? (UPSC IAS/2014)

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