4th Five Year Plan
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Chapter 10:

Food Policy and Administration

The Food grains Policy Committee (1966) postulated three objectives of food policy: to achieve self-reliance in production, to ensure equitable distribution, and t and bring about price stability in the context of both production and distribution. The Committee went on to suggest that the latter two objecives could be achieved by planned management of food supplies involving such measures as procurement, control of inter-State movement of foodgrains, a system of public distribution and the building up of buffer stocks. Some of the measures recommended and indeed actually in operation— such as control of inter-State movement of focd-grains—were related to a situation of grave shortage coupled with the necessity of maximum procurement. If the situation changes, so must the strategy. Thus, changes would obviously be called for in the management of food supplies if the envisaged rate of growth in the production of food-grains materialises in the Fourth Plan period. Food policy has to be so formulated as to meet different situations, whether of deficits or of surpluses. It must have a certain amount of flexibility. It must, at the same time, fit into the broad framework of economic policy. The main objectives of food policy in the Fourth Plan may, therefore, be restated as:

  1. to ensure that consumer prices are stabilised and, in particular, that the interests of the low income consumers are safeguarded;
  2. to ensure that the producers get reasonable prices and continue to have adequate incentives for increasing production; and
  3. to build up an adequate buffer stock of foodgrains with a view to ensuring both the objectives mentioned above.

10.2 Even when the food supply improves, prices may tend to be high in certain areas. Similarly, in years of shortfall in production, prices might lend to rise causing distress to vulnerable sections of the population. Protection of the interests of the consumers, particualrly the low income groups, would have to be an objective of food policy. This involves distribution of foodgrains through cooperative and fair price shops and the regulation of private trade. As an incentive for higher production, the rainier should get a reasonable price, even when surpluses emerge. This can be ensured by State purchases, through the Food Corporation of India, cooperatives and other agencies.

Instruments of Food Policy

10.3. The achievement of the objectives set out above calls for skilful management of food supplies and a strategy which may have to be changed from year to year depending on the available food resources, price trends, inter-State disparity in prices and availabiliy, and the continuing need of maintaining a buffer stock at the desired level. Within the policy framework, there should be room for manoeuvre, improvisation and flexibility, provided progress is mainrained towards attainment of the objectives set out. A number of measures, direct and indirect, will be necessary. These include:

  1. the continuance of the public distribution system;
  2. the acquisition by the public sector of a sizeable percentage of marketable surplus of foodgrains with a view to meeting the commitments under the public distribution system and maintaining the buffer stock at the desired level;
  3. the imposition of such restrictions on the movement of foodgrains as may be necessary to help the attainment of procurement targets or to prevent, in a condition of shortage, an excessive rise in prices throughout the country;
  4. the regulation of private trade to curb speculation and hoarding;
  5. the regulation of bank advances against foodgrains; and
  6. the continuance of the ban on forward trading.

All these measures are at present being adopted as instruments of policy. A judicious combination of these will be necessary during the Fourth Plan, though the precise role that each might play may change from year to year.

10.4. Efforts have to be made to ensure that the fair price shop system is gradually replaced by an arrangement under which the co-operative consumer stores or shops of multi-purposes societies become the principal apparatus for public distribution of foodgrains. The cooperative consumer stores can play a crucial role, especially in the rural areas, if their number is increased. At present, the fair price shop system, working mostly through private units, depends on State initiative and action; and there are large fluctuations in the operation acd extension of the system from year to year. Such a system is also apt to be dismantled as soon as adverse conditions disappear. This is wasteful. Attempts will be made in the Fourth Plan lo promote viable cooperative shops which will ds-pend not merely on the distribution of foodgrains under the public distribution system but have activity-covering the sale of other goods of mass consumption.

10.5. In the past. imports have met a good part of the requirements of the public distribution system. With early cessation of concessional imports cf- foodgrains which is contemplated, commitments for the public distribution system and buffer stock operations can be met only by internal procurement. The procurement target for ihe country as a whole cannot be less than 8 to 10 million tonnes in any given year.

10.6. Methods of procurement have varied. Certain States like Maharashtra have operated with success a system of monopoly procurement with a graduated levy on producers. The Punjab scheme of pre-emptive purchases, coupled with an efficient system of regulated markets, has also worked well. The States will continue to have the choice of the mode of procurement best suited to the fulfilment of their obligations. Procurement by States has, in conditions of scarcity, called for restrictions on the inter State movement of foodgrains on private account. With the emergence of surpluses and the operation of an effective buffer stock in foodgrains, these restrictions may, as and when warranted by the situation, be progressively relaxed. Steps in this direction were taken during 1968 when a bigger northern food zone was constituted and the movC'-ment of gram and barley was made free throughout the country. Movement restrictions on maize, bajra and jowar were also lifted from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. A further relaxation was made in 1969 when the Northern Wheat Zone was enlarged so as to cover practically the whole of North India. The approach towards zonal restrictions in the Fourth Plan will continue to be pragmatic.

Buffer Stocks

10.7. The importance of building up buffer stocks to stabilise the food economy has long been recognised. A buffer stock is necessary not only to meet marked falls in production resulting from bad years, but also to impart inter-seasonal stability to the price level. A buffer stock of adequate size has, therefore, to be a central feature of food policy during the Fourth Plan. A beginning has been made with a provision or a two million tonne buffer stock in 1968-69. On a consideration of various factors, the setting up wheat buffer stock of five million tonnes of foodgrains might be deemed reasonably adequate. A buffer stock of this magnitude, managed by the Food Corporation of India, would suffice to meet all except very abnormal fluctuations such as those which- characterised 1965-66 and 1966-67. The requisite financial provision for an additional buffer stock of 3 million tonnes of focdgrains has been made in the Plan. Storage for buffer stocks is equally important. The programme of storage has been discussed in the chapter on Agriculture.

Food Corporation

10.8. The principal agency for the implementation of the food policy is the Food Corporation of India. Since its establishment in January 1965, there has been a substantial expansion of the activities of the Corporation. The Corporation now functions in all States except Maharashtra. Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland. Its role and the extent of its operations, however, vary from State to State. The functions of procuring, moving, storing and handling of foodgrains at the ports and in the interior have been handed over to the Food Corporation by the Food Department. When the Corporation was established, it was intended that it should attain a commanding position in the distribution cf foodgrains and stabilisation of prices. This has not so far been achieved but substantial progress lias been made. During 1968-69 the Corporation purchased or handled 8.7 million tonnes of food-grains both indigenous and imported valued at about Rs. 713 crores. In coming years, the Food Corporation is expected to have adequate autonomy and flexibility in its operation, as it will have to go increasingly into the open market. Its pricing strategy will have to be determined not on the basis cf individual transactions but with reference to their total volume.

Integrated Approach

10.9. The Fourth Plan attempts to set out an integrated nutrition programme. Where so many are under-nourished, more food is the first step towards better nutrition. In this sense, therefore, the nationwide endeavour to1 develop agriculture, along with.animal husbandry and fisheries, must be regarded as the base of all effort in nutrition. In the very process of production, including the planning for different crops, it is both necessary and possible to provide for the main needs of good nutrition. While this will be sought to be ensured both generally in the agriculture programmes and specifically in the areas covered by schemes of applied nutrition, the important problem remains of widespread malnutrition among certain vulnerable categories of the population. Recent surveys indicate that nearly two-thirds of expectant mothers belonging to the poorer sections of the community suffer from serious malnutrition. Infant mortality continues to be high. The health of young children, both pre-school and school-going, needs special care. Protein malnutrition is acute in some parts of the country and deficiency diseases have a high incidence. Specific programmes of nutrition, therefore, must also receive high priority. In formulating them, the following requirements have to be kept in mind:

  1. since resources are limited, it is necessary to establish priorities with reference to needs, classes and areas;
  2. it is important to improve the efficiency, and extend the coverage, of the organisations whicli serve the needs of the priority age-groups, classes and areas, and
  3. programmes of distribution should be supported wherever this is necessary, by pro-grames of production, processing and supply.

The coordinated nutrition programme of the Fourth Plan, consisting of both existing and new schemes, is based on these considerations.The number of new schemes in the Plan has been kept to the minimum necessary. Some of the schemes seek to make a beginning with the fulfilment of the special needs and requirements of specified groups of people, for example, those likely to be affected by nutritional anaemia, blindness or protein deficiency. Programmes concerned with preschool children and expectant and nursing mothers will be concentrated in known areas of acute malnutrition, and become an important item in the activities of balwadis. The efficiency and coverage of the existing agencies, voluntary and departmental, vary in different pans of the country. Better implementation of nutrition programmes is sought to be ersured in the Plan by effecting improvements in organisation and providing for adequate supervision. There are also new schemes for the use of a wider organisational network involving the association cf women, so that children, specially pre:school children, are properly looked after. Finally, some of the new projects included in the Plan are in the nature of pilot schemes for promoting cheap, nutritious or fortifying foods to replace in due course what is received as aid from abroad,

Improvement of Staple Foods

10.11. Improving the quality of cereals that form the basis of staple diet can be a highly efficacious means of raising the nutritional level. In recognition of this aspect, efforts have been initiated recently to direct research towards the breeding of cereal varieties, especially wheat, with a high protein content. In regard to rice, there, is still no strain in commercial production which has an improved distribution of amino acids. Recent researches have, however, shown that the genetic enrichment of cereal proteins with lysine and pulse protein with mefhionine as well as the lowering of the leucine content of jowar, are possible and could be taken up on a large scale. Fortunately, high-yield and good nutritive value are found to go together in a number of strains and it should, therefore, be possible to achieve high yield without sacrificing nutritive value through purposive research.

10.12. Another promising area of research relates to pulses. New short-duraton varieties of pulses such as moong, gram and arhar have been developed. These can be grown in rotation with cereals in irrigated areas. In many of the dry areas characterised by salinity or alkalinity nodulation is poor in legumes. A new method of pelleting enables the bacteria to establish themselves in leguminous crops in such areas. In this technique is used, the yield of crops like soyabean and groundnut can be greatly increased. When pulse production and consumption go up, an important contribution will have been made to nutritional standards.

10.13. In the Fourth Plan provision has also been made for extending research on fortification of wheat products and salt. In the case of salt, researches are under way on fortification with calcium, iron and lysine at the Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhavnagar and the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad. Pilot studies are also being undertaken to fortify wheat products with calcium, iron, vitamins and protein concentrates.

Production of Unconventional Protein Foods

10.14. Since there is no firm prospect of breeding high protein cereal varieties in the near future and rhere is only a limited possibility of increasing protein supply from foods of animal origin, a practical alternative for the time being would be to concentrate on producing unconventional sources of protein for supplementing the diet of those most in need of it such as children of pre-school and school-going age. Accordingly, a number cf schemes have been included. The main scheme concerns production of Balahar which is a protein food manufactured under the auspices of Food C-orporaton of India.Other schemes relate to producton of cottonseed flour, production of weaning food, groundnut flour and soyabean products.

10.15. Research is in progress on production of unconventional protein foods and thare is further scope for it. Some funds have been allocated for research and pilot experiments. These include a pilot plant for protein isolate and protein isolated toned milk.

Nutrition Education

10.16. Nutrition education involving diseamina-tic-n of knowledge regarding proper food habits, has a significant role in facilitating optimum use of available food resources. In the Fourth Plan, nutrition education is proposed to be pronoted through a variety of schemes. The principal scheme ięs a continuing one known as the applied nutrition programme. Other schemes included relate to nutritional education through Mahila Mardals and also through State nutritional bureaux. Provision h"-s also been made for audio-visual publicity and for extension work through voluntary agencies.

10.17. The applied nutritic-n programme aims at stimulating self-help activities so that optimum use is made of available food resources in the rural areas. Education in respect of basic nutritional principles is sought to be combined with administration, production and preparation of prctective foods through community gardens, poultry farming and fish culture. On the eve of the Fourth Plan, the applied nutrition programme covered 734 blocks. During the Fourth Plan, the programme will continue in 734 existing blocks and will be taken up in 450 new blocks.

Special Measures for Vulnerable Groups

10.18. In nutritional planning, pregnant women, infants and young children have obvious priority. Special stress has been laid in the Fourth Plan on schemes for the benefit of vulnerable groups.

10.19. By the end of the 1968-69 the mid-day meal programme in schools covered about 11 million school children. Balwadis under the Social Welfare Department benefit about 200,000 children in the age group 3 to 6 years. Nutritional feeding of about 500,000 pre-school children of all ages up to 6 years is provided by the State Departments of Health. As different organisations are involved, it often happens that a centre with a school feeding programme may not cater to pre-school children. The reverse may also occur, though less frequently. Nutritional feeding programmes are likely to have the maximum impact when they involve both pre-school children and school children. For this reason, all the relevant age groups at the centres selected will be sought .t<^ be covered in the Fourth Plan, The development of Balahar and similar blended foods for mass production has made available items of high nutritional value which promise to standardise feeding. Production programmes in the Plan envisage stepping up of the availability of Balahar from its current level cf ?6,500 lonnes per annum to approximately 50,000 tonnes per annum. The number of school children covered is expected to increase from 11 million to 14 million.

10.20. While the school feeding programme is undertaken under the auspices of the Department of Education, the Department of Social Welfare will continue to promote programmes relating to the welfare of pre-school children, handicapped children, and children belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Voluntary agencies are proposed to be given increasingly large share in their operation. The maiernity and health centres will also play an important part in the feeding programmes of expectant and nursing mothers and infants. One of the schemes relates to the blindness caused in children by deficiency of vitamin A. This scheme is designed to benefit about 8 million children of 5 years and less in areas of high incidence of blindness.

10.21. A special programme to be executed by the Social Welfare Department for mid-day meals to cover 10 lakh children in tribal areas and 10 lakh children in the slum areas of metropolitan cities annually, will be introduced during the Fourth Plan period. There are 489 tribal development blocks in the country, besides a number of concentrated pockets cf tribal population in very backward rural areas. The Maternity Child Health Centres and Family Planning Welfare Centres situated in these areas will be made use of for supplying nutrition to children. Similarly 10 lakhs children in the age group 0—3, residing in the slum areas of metropolitan cities, who are in urgent need of supplementary nutrition for normal growth and development, will be supplied with nutrition food.

Coordination cmd Evaluation

10.22. The outlays on nutrition programmes in the various sectors are :

Table 1 : Outlay on Nutrition (Rs. crores)

Sl. Department
central sector state sector total
(0) (1) (2) (3) (4)
1 health and family planning 5.13 5.13
2 community 13.90 2.10 16.00
3 food 3.05 13.05
4 education 5.00 5.00
5 social welfare 6.00 6.00
6 Total 38.08 7.10 45.18

Annexures I and II indicate the outlays and physical targeis respectively of the nutritional programmes of the various departments.

19.23. Several Departments of the Union Government and State Governments are involved in implementing nutrition programmes. There are also a number of voluntary agencies. There is need for systematic communication, consultation and coordination among them. The industrial production of nutritious foods and the organisation of pilot projects for this purpose along with feasibUity studies, research and survey, are the spheres of interest to the F and od and Health Departments as well as to the Industries Department. The appropriate coordinating agency for this sphere of operation would be the Department of Food at the Centre. For feeding programmes as well as training, education and extension which are the areas of action of the Community Development and Social Welfare Departments, Health and Family Planning Ministry and Education Ministry, the Department of Community Development can profitably take up the responsibility for coordination. In respect of the overall coordination of the programmes, not only of the different Departments but for the country as a whole, the Planning Commission will have to provide the requisite means of coordination including review and evaluation. The most important part of the coordination of nutrition programmes arises in each State. The success of the programme as a whole will depend on the effectiveness of the machinery in the State, not only for implementation of individual programmes but for their integration, appr isal and evaluation.

ANNEXURE-I Schemewise Outlay for the Nmrition Programme in Fourth Plan

Sl.No Schems outlay proposed (Rs. lakhs) Remarks
(0) (1) (2) (3)
1 department ofhealth and family planning 513
2 feasibility tests of vitamin and mineral fortification of staple foods . 3 central scheme (new)
3 pilot project for nutrition education through State Nutrition Bureaux 3 Do
4 prophylaxis against nutritional anaemia in mothers and children . 405 central scheme (new) (this represents rupee outlay on domestically available components mainly ferrous sulphate).
5 control of blindness in children caused by vitamin A deficiency . 102 central scheme (new)
6 department of community development 1600
applied nutrition programme 1000 centrally sponsored (continuing scheme)
8 composite programme for women and pre-school children . 600 new scheme
9 nutrition education through Mahila Mandals 163 1 provision for components (9) and (10) of
10 strengthening supervisory machinery for women's programme the scheme is expected to be in the state plan
11 demonstration feeding 316
12 encouragement of economic activities by Mahila Mandals . 501 provision for parts (11), (12) and (13) is
13 training of associate women workers 2401 proposed to be made in the central sector.
14 department of food 1365
5 production of ground nut flour and soyabean products 92 central scheme (continuing)
16 production of balahar and low cost protein foods 670.57 Do-
17 production of weaning food 20 Do-
18 pilot plant for protien isolate and protein isolate toned milk 40 Do-
19 cotton seed flour 15 central scheme (new)
20 fortification of wheat products 50 Do.
21 fortification salt 32 Do.
22 fortification of bread 1 central scheme (continuing)
23 audio-visual aids and publicity
24 extension work through voluntary agency 30 Do.
25 mobile food and nutrition extension units
26 nutrition and deitary surveys
27 studies in acceptability of nutritious foods 80 Do.
28 formulation of low cost diet through linear techniques central scheme (new)
29 drying of groundnut and control of aflatoxin 20 Do.
30 community canning and fruit preservation centres 45.2 central scheme (continuing)
31 production of peanut-butter 1 Do.
32 institutes of catering technology and applied nutrition 62.8 Do.
33 research scheme 10 central scheme (new)
34 maize, pulses and millets processing 8 Do.
35 food technology training centre 39 central scheme (continuing)
36 fruit products and cold storage scheme 57 central scheme (new)
37 education through modern bakeries 15
38 up-grading of loboratories and directional expenditure 16.43
department of education 500
40 school feeding 500 state sector
41 department of social welfare 600
42 nutrition feeding of pre-school children through balwadis 600 central sector
43- Total (1+6+14+39+41) 4518

ANNEXURE Physical Targets of the Nutrition Scheme

sl.no. scheme unit fourth plan target
(0) (1) (2)
department of health and family planning
1 prophylaxis against nutritional anaemia in mothers and children beneficiary coverage in million 15
2 control of blindness in children caused by vitamin A deficiency . children covered million 8
department of community development
3 applied nutrition programme new blocks 450
4 composite programme for and pre-school children women blocks benefited 1200
department of food
5 production of balahar lakh tonnes 2.5
department of education
6 school feeding programme children covered (6—11) in million 14
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