Effect of the lockdown on food supply
In light of the ongoing 21 days lockdown period to curb the spread of COVID-19, its implication on food supply in India is being discussed.
Status of Food Supply
In terms of availability, India has adequate stock of food supply. The problem is getting the food to the people. Various food items’ supply have been hit in different ways:
- Food grains’ availability would not be a problem. The FCI’s stock of rice and wheat is at 77.6 million tonnes.
- There is sufficient stock of pulses with the NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India). Excluding the upcoming input from the recent rabi crop, there is a stock of about 2.25mt.
- The supply of fruits and vegetables, however, would take a hit.
The food supply is facing certain issues:
- Insufficient farm labourers to harvest the standing rabi crops due to mass exodus of migrants.
- Insufficient labour force for transporting the food from areas of production to areas of consumption.
- Reports of local police action against transportation of even essential goods like vegetables and fruits.
- Indiscriminate imposition of restriction on inter-state transportation.
- Distress in the farmer communities due to lack of storage facilities leading to food wastage.
- Clear orders from the government against interruption of food materials’ transportation and harassment of farm labourers.
- Uniform instructions regarding operation of groceries, vegetable and fruit retailers, etc.
- Use of railways to transport farm produce.
- Improving the structure of APMC mandis in accordance with the situation. Instead of one large centre, small mandis can be set up at places like government schools to prevent crowding.
- Day-wise or hour-wise slots for farmers in mandis along with clear assurances of produces’ sale.