Of food security

It''s not just about the availability of food but suitability and quality as well

Binish Qadri
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jun 20 2018 10:45PM | Updated Date: Jun 20 2018 10:45PM
Of food securityRepresentational Pic

For Aristotle, the final outcome of human life is to progress and flourish, to live well, to enjoy a good life. All activities of mankind should target at this end. It is very true that in order to live or survive we need food, clothing, and shelter, but such a ‘survival’ or ‘living’ is only a means to the end and the end being ‘living well.’ For Aristotle ‘living well’ is the final end for humans. Therefore, for Aristotle, life is not merely living but living well (Reason and Meaning, 2013). Every Tom, Dick, and Harry has the inalienable right to be free from hunger and malnutrition in order to grow, progress and advance fully and maintain his physical and mental faculties. Accordingly, the eradication of hunger is a common objective of all the countries of the international community, especially of the developed countries and others in a position to help (United Nations. 1975. Report of the World Food Conference, Rome 5-16 November 1974. New York). Apprehensions about food security can be traced back to the Hot Springs Conference of Food and Agriculture in 1943. The 1943 conference developed the concept of a “secure, adequate and suitable supply of food for everyone” a notion that was subsequently taken up at a worldwide level.  By 1960s there was a mounting realization that food support could actually obstruct and impede a country’s progress to self-sufficiency and consequently was born the concept of Food for Development and in 1963 its institutional manifestation, the World Food Programme (WFP). 

The period of richness or abundance of food was coming to an end and the 1972-74 food crisis marked the beginning of inconsistent and unstable food supplies and prices. This increased the importance and scope of insurance sector because to counter such fluctuations, insurance schemes were set up to guarantee access to food supplies and this led to greater harmonization among supporter organizations and improved intensive care of  food problems on the ground in receiving countries. For last three decades or so, food security has been well-thought-out at worldwide, nationwide local, domestic and individual level. Traditionally food security was thought of arranging minimum level of food grains for the population in the developing nations both in times of normalcy and abnormality/ crisis (Reutiinger, 1977). Subsequently, it was realized that availability of food alone could not characterize food security and may not ensure economic access to food for all population, particularly the poor and weak sections. Accordingly, it was stressed and highlighted that suitable production levels and stability of food must match a fall in poverty levels and a rise in the effective demand. Keynes labelled the word “effective demand” to represent ’the aggregate demand for goods and services (both for consumption demand and investment demand, i.e. Y=C+I) by the people in the economy thereby signifying that effective demand demonstrates itself in the form of total expenditure in the economy, to safeguard economic and physical access for the poor and weaker sections of the society.


The notion of food security must be seen as an operational concept in public policy rather than a fixed one, because it has reproduced and replicated the extensive and varied acknowledgement of the intricacies and complicacies of the procedural and methodological and policy issues involved. An examination of food security must scrutinize whether a transformation from food security to food insecurity or food insecurity to food security really takes place and also the likelihood of such a transformation happening.  What are the factors behind food security or food insecurity?  What are the factors behind transformation of food security to food insecurity? What are the factors behind transformation of food insecurity to food security? All such queries and questions must be answered in a very logical and systematic manner. The starring role of food analysts, researchers and policy makers should be to find out ways to answer such questions.



(Binish Qadri is Research Scholar, Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir & Academic Counsellor, IGNOU STUDY CENTRE 1209, S.P. College, Srinagar)







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