Food, clothing and shelter are the basic necessities of a person. Among these, food is the first most important necessity. No one can survive without sufficient food. It is a prime duty of every government to provide sufficient food to all the people of a State. If a government fails to provide sufficient and nourishing food to her people, she fails on all the economic social and political fronts. Therefore, sufficient food should be provided to all the people of a State. Production of foodgrains should be sufficient to meet their demand. If the production is less than demand, the country will have to import food grains which will create the problem of adverse balance of trade and balance of payments.
In India, food problem is a chronic problem. It dates back to 1937, the time of separation of Burma from India and 1947, the time of partition. Unemployment has further aggravated the problem.
India is the second most populated country of the world. Being so, food requirements of the country are increasing day by day. Food problem in India covers four important aspects.
Quantitative aspects of food problem are related to the demand and supply of food grains. Production of foodgrains has been less than their demand for a long period. Though in the last few years, domestic production of food grains has increased considerably, yet the country has to import foodgrains in large quantities from time to time.
Qualitative aspect of food problem is related to nutritive elements in food. Proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates etc. are the important elements of a balanced diet but these elements are not available in sufficient quantities to most of the Indian people. According to experts, a person should get 3,000 calories per day but on an average 2100 calories are available to the people in India. Most important reason of this situation is the poverty of most of the people in India.
Distributive aspects of food problem are related to the system of marketing of agricultural products. Due to defective system of distribution, most of the persons do not get foodgrains in sufficient quantities, at right time, and at fair prices. Anti-social elements create artificial shortage of these products in market and sell them at unreasonable prices. Most important reason for this situation is administrative sluggishness.
Economic aspects of food problem are related to purchasing power of people. National income and per capita income of India are very low. The result is that most of the people in India are not in a position to afford the purchase of nourishing foodgrains in sufficient quantities.
Important causes of food problem in India are as follows:
Rapid growth of population.
Low agricultural productivity.
Development of commercial crops.
Changes in the consumption pattern.
Increase in income demand for food.
Economic development and urbanisation.
Hoarding and black - marketing.
Food policy of Government of India Soon after independence, the government took the problem of shortage of food grains seriously. Several important measures have been taken by government to solve this problem.