Issues and Challenges of Food Security in India

Food security is defined as "ensuring that all people have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food at all times in order to live a healthy and active life."

Food insecurity arises when all people, at all times, lack physical and economic access to enough, safe, and nutritious food to fulfil their dietary needs and food choices for an active and healthy life. One of the greatest concerns facing the globe today is food and human security. 

One of the most important aspects of the Millennium Development Goals, along with poverty eradication and environmental protection, is food security.

Food security is defined as a concept that considers both physical and economic access to food while also taking into consideration people's dietary demands and preferences. Food security is defined as "ensuring that all people have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food at all times in order to live a healthy and active life." Food security is built on three pillars: constant food supply, access to a balanced diet, and food usage for basic nutrition and care, as well as access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The primary problem in achieving the goal of self-sufficiency in emerging nations is food stability and availability.

Global Hunger Index 2021
Global Hunger Index 2021

China and India both have one billion people, posing a challenge and putting strain on both countries. According to research, these nations have roughly half of the world's wheat stocks and the greatest stores of rice. India saw a bountiful harvest in 2010, but because to poor storage facilities, about one-third of the food grains were destroyed. As a result, the government has made a firm decision to save rather than sell the market's equities. India is the world's greatest food security conundrum since the country plays such a huge role in global food and nutrition security.

Food Security Schemes in India

In most developing nations, achieving food security by increasing agricultural productivity has been a top priority. Several countries have succeeded in reaching this goal to a significant degree. However, dietary deficiency has not been adequately addressed. In India, the emphasis has been on initiatives, with successive plans being introduced to improve the country's food security.

Public Distribution System

One of the tools for maintaining home food security is the public distribution system. The primary goal of PDS is to guarantee that necessary products of consumption are distributed to families in a fair and equitable manner at socially reasonable pricing through a regulatory system. This would not only help to achieve a level of self-sufficiency in terms of food production and procurement, but it will also help to keep costs in check. Before independence, the PDS mechanism was used to regulate food prices and shortages, but it has since been employed as an instrument of inclusive economic policy to achieve the dual goals of equality and social justice.

National Horticultural Mission (NHM)

In 1984, the Indian government established the National Horticulture Board to improve the country's food security. The National Horticultural Mission was launched by the Board, with the goal of developing hi-tech commercial horticulture in selected areas. Modern post-harvest management infrastructure as part of area expansion projects or as a shared facility for a group of projects, energy-efficient cold chain infrastructure for fresh horticultural products, fostering applied R&D for standardising PHM processes creating common facility centres in Horticulture Parks and Agri-Export Zones, as well as implementing. The Board conducts research to identify weak areas in horticulture development and develops plans to promote horticulture development by providing developers with technical and consulting services.

National Food Security Mission

During the Eleventh Plan, the project was initiated in 2007-2008 with the goal of increasing rice, wheat, and pulses output by 10 million tonnes, 8 million tonnes, and 2 million tonnes, respectively. The scheme's goal is to increase output through expanding land and increasing productivity, as well as offering job possibilities and initiatives to help farmers regain confidence. This programme is now being implemented in 17 states throughout the country.

National Project on Management of Soil Health and Fertility

The GOI established the National Project on Management of Soil Health and Fertility Project to improve soil fertility and productivity by improving soil nutrients. The Project aims to strengthen soil testing laboratories, promote the use of integrated Nutrient Management, and Fertilizer Quality Control Labs. Based on soil studies and demonstrations, all of these institutional structures have been put in place to support the balanced use of chemical fertilisers and farmyard manure.

National Scheme for Agricultural Mechanization Promotion and Strengthening via Training, Testing, and Demonstration

The scheme is implemented by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and four Farm Machinery Training and Testing Institutes located in Budni (MP), Hissar (Haryana), Garladinne (AP), and Biswanath Chariali (Assam) with the goal of demonstrating new and technologically advanced equipment at farmers' fields for induction of new technology in the agricultural production system, and assessing machine suitability.

Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana

During the Eleventh Plan, the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) was started in 2007-2008 with a budget of Rs. 25,000 crores with the goal of increasing public investment in states in order to meet the aim of a 4% growth rate in agricultural and related industries. Several technology packages for enhancing agriculture production have been distributed in the states of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Eastern UP, and West Bengal under this initiative.

The Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil Palm and Maize (ISOPOM)

On April 1, 2010, this scheme was introduced in 14 main states for the production of oilseeds; 15 for maize, and 10 for oil palm. The pulses component was combined with NFSM. This plan will serve as a useful tool for crop diversification. The scheme's goal is to help with the acquisition of breeder seed, founder seed production, certified seed production and distribution, and plant protection incentives such as chemicals, equipment, and weedicides. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Goa, Orissa, Kerala, Tripura, Assam, and Mizoram have all adopted this programme.

Major Challenges for Food Security

Climate change is a major issue affecting food security in many parts of India. The sky-high expenditure in research and infrastructure required for growing crop production in various sectors of agriculture necessitates technological advancements. Crop production practises have also evolved, posing a threat to India's food security.

Climate Change

Another difficulty in the food security scenario is the changing climate, which has unanticipated consequences for the country's food grain production. Drought (because to a shortage of moisture) or floods (due to a surplus of moisture) are consequences of low/heavy rainfall and unusually high/low temperatures, all of which have a detrimental influence on crop productivity and agricultural net income in the nation. Climate change has a huge influence on both food production and socio-economic aspects by causing considerable changes in land use patterns and water resource availability. These negative implications can only be prevented by combining the biophysical and socio-economic aspects of the food chain.

Crop Diversification

The nation's goal of food security has been realised in consecutive years of the green revolution thanks to amazing techniques by ICAR. Furthermore, agricultural experts have emphasised crop diversity by encouraging farmers to plant cotton, chilli, and sunflower, as well as diversifying rice and wheat production to oilseeds and pulses, which require less irrigation and offer higher earnings than field crops.

Agricultural Prices

The lack of remunerative prices for end goods, distressed sales, high cultivation costs combined with inappropriate market prices, and the combination of all of these activities as a barrier in the path of food security. True, the concept of globalisation has given more openness to commerce, but it is unable to assure more stable market pricing. As a result, agricultural pricing policy must be regulated for the benefit of the marketing community, hence promoting food security in India.

Bio-fuel and Medicinal Plant Cultivation

Another issue for the country is the diversification of field crops such as maize, wheat, and Medicinal Plants such as Ashwagandha, Sarpogandha, and Jatropha to Bio-Fuel. Diversification is essentially a notion that originated in the United States and other European, Asian, and African countries. Sugar and other field crops are grown for the manufacturing of ethanol, which is unquestionably a huge concern in terms of food security. It has been noted on multiple occasions that the state of Tamil Nadu in the south of India is adopting a frightening move in this matter. From 2000 to 2010, the area under cultivation was reported to have expanded from 46 hectares to 9020 ha.

Production of High Yielding Varieties

New types of field crops are another major challenge for food grain production as the environment changes. In the case of pulses and oilseeds, the poor harvest index was calculated. This difficulty may be met by implementing plant breeding programmes, adopting contemporary biotechnology techniques, and encouraging farmers to seek out knowledge and employ innovative production practises.

New Trends of Globalization

New globalisation trends, such as speedier communication, transportation, and significant development in service industries, have created difficulties of unfairness among diverse parts of society, as well as unenthusiastic rivalry among entrepreneurs. As a result, impoverished farmers are unable to utilise existing facilities, and the globalised world is discouraged, which has indirectly increased food insecurity in the country.

Capital Investment

In recent years, agriculture's share of capital investment in GDP has remained unchanged. Although capital spending has improved in recent Five-Year Plans, it has been highlighted that during 2007-2008 to 2009-2010, the agriculture sector contributed significantly to GDP. The main problem is to increase both public and private sector capital investment.

Encouragement to Horticulture Products

It is critical to enhance per capita availability of food grains as well as provide the proper quantity of food items on the common man's plate in order to ensure food security. Horticulture goods require encouragement in order to increase per capita availability of food while also assuring food security.

Infrastructure Requirements

The government should prioritise warehouses, roads, transportation, and market facilities. Encouragement of the PPP model in agriculture will result in speedier infrastructure development.


The policy of conservation is posing a new difficulty. Climate flexibility laws, agriculture laws, agricultural waste management laws, soil carbon sequestration laws, and general natural resource management laws are all urgently needed.


Throughout the fast rise of the India economy over the last two decades, the urban sector has been widely regarded as having performed well. High urban economic growth, on the other hand, does not always mean higher living conditions for all city dwellers. The recent and ongoing problem of rising food costs, in particular, reminds us that, even as the urban economy increases fast, large segments of the population may confront acute food insecurity.


Ali, M., Rehman, H. and Husain, M.S., 2012. Status of food insecurity at household level in rural India: A case study of Uttar Pradesh. International Journal of Physical and Social Sciences 2(8), 227-244.

Anonymous, 2021. International Food Policy Research Institute's Global Hunger Index (GHI) (2021). https://www.globalhungerindex.org/india.html.

Anonymous, 2019. Global Hunger Index 2019: India ranked lower than Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh (2019). New Delhi. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/global-hunger-index-2019-India-ranked-lower-than-nepal-pakistan-bangladesh/article29714429.ece.

Atherya, V., 2010. Food insecurity in Urban India. The Hindu, dated on 24th Sep, 2010.

Chadha, N., 2016. Food Security in India: Issues and Challenges. International Journal of Humanities, Arts, Medicine and Sciences 4 (1), 79-86.

Pradip Kumar Saini1, Tarkeshwar1*, Shambhoo Prasad1, D. Ram1 and Sanjay Kumar Tripathi2

1Acharya Narendra Deva University of Agriculture & Technology, Kumarganj, Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh (224 229), India

2Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture & Technology, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh (208 002), India

Corresponding email: tarkeshwar.barhaj2014@gmail.com

Share your comments

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters