You are here: Home » Economy & Policy » News
Business Standard

Draft food Bill warns against diversion of farm land

Sanjeeb Mukherjee  |  New Delhi 

Says it may compromise food and nutritional security.

Amid rising disputes over land acquisition, the draft food Bill has cautioned against unwarranted diversion of farm land, as it may compromise food and nutritional security.

“For further advancing food and nutritional security, the central, state and local governments shall strive to progressively realise steps to prohibit unwarranted diversion of land and water from food production,” said the draft Bill, cleared recently by an empowered group of ministers.

The proposed law, which will now be placed before the Cabinet, also sought to ensure that not only grains are distributed as a matter of right, but also the Centre, states and local authorities must strive to improve agricultural production.

According to a preliminary assessment made by the food ministry, the country would need 61 million tonnes (mt) of grains for effective running of the food security act. At present, the government’s annual grain procurement hovers between 55 and 60 mt.

The draft Bill seeks to provide subsidised grains to 75 per cent of the rural population, of which 46 per cent will belong to the priority sector (which can loosely be classified as similar to the current below poverty line families). Almost 50 per cent of the urban population will also be covered through the Bill.

Officials said families under the priority category would be supplied seven kg of grains per person per month, while general category households (which are classified as above poverty line families) will be given 3-4 kg of grains per person per month.

Rice will be given to priority sector households at Rs 3 a kg, wheat at Rs 2 a kg and coarse cereals at Rs 1 per kg. For general category families, grains will be supplied at a price related to the minimum support price.

Officials estimate the country’s annual food bill will rise to Rs 94,987 crore after the food security Bill is enacted.

The draft said agrarian reforms should be undertaken keeping in mind the interests of small and marginal farmers.

“Investments in agriculture should be raised including that in research and development,” the draft said.

It also called for measures to incentivise decentralised procurement, geographical diversification of procurement operations and giving top priority to the movement of grains from one place to another. The draft also called for revitalising the public distribution mechanism in states.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Wed, July 20 2011. 00:31 IST