India is focused on food security as well as dealing with the problem of sustainability of supplies, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said on September 21.
“The whole government is preparing to set targets for 2047, when India will complete 100 years of its independence,” Pandey said at CII’s 17th Sustainability Summit in New Delhi. “Sustainability, mitigating impact of climate change is one of the priorities of the government… One of the major element of this approach is going to be public-private partnerships.”
India’s wheat and paddy crops have been affected this year due to heat waves and deficient monsoon showers in some parts of the subcontinent.
The country has curbed wheat and rice exports in a bid to ensure food security.
The June-to-September monsoon is significant for the overall economy because it accounts for 70 percent of annual rainfall in a country where about half of the farmlands depend on annual showers for irrigation. Agriculture, which employs more than half of the workforce in the world’s second-most populous country, makes up about 15 percent of India’s economic output.
The monsoon, as of September 15 this year, was 7 percent above the long period average. However, agrarian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar remain areas of concern as the departure of rainfall from the average remained acute.
For now, the public procurement of foodgrains has started in southern state of Tamil Nadu, secretary Pandey said at the CII event.
“We will be starting procurement in northern India from 1st of October. Our estimates are that actual public procurement this year is going to be about 4-to-5 percent more than what it was last year,” he added.
The government procures wheat and paddy, with the latter converted to rice at mills. The procurement is undertaken at the minimum support price by the state-owned Food Corporation of India as well as state organisations.
Over the last two years, India has given over $100 billion of food subsidy to its 800 million people, including in the form of free foodgrains to ease distress. The free foodgrain programme is due to end on September 30.