While the political logjam over Food Security Bill continues, the questions are being raied on its timing!
Starting from the India's first green revolution, the agriculture biotechnology has played a great role in increasing the quality and productivity of important crops such as rice and wheat. Of late the overshadowing of the tremendous benefits offered by the sector due to various controversies have made it difficult for this industry to expand its base. Now the introduction of food security bill has also renewed debate on how can the sustained flow of food grains be maintained through increased production. Whether the bill can meet its purpose or not is a different case but most of the experts seem to be on the same page as far as its importance and revamp of agriculture system is concerned.
More food means more agri-output
Ram Kaundinya, Chairman, ABLE AG (Association of Biotech Led Enterprises - Agriculture Group) feels that this is surely a very progressive and socially relevant legislation. He says, "Despite being a welfare state, it is a sad fact that large number of our people has to suffer the depravity of hunger. With the stated objective of the Food Security Bill being addressing this malaise of society, if implemented well, this will redefine poverty and hunger. For the agriculture sector, this Bill will have huge implications. Clearly, there will be need for more food grains and pulses (if the new recommendations are factored in) which shall have to be met by enhanced productivity of land and increased profitability of the farmers." Mr Kaundinya in support of his view mentions that role of biotech has been exemplified by over 170 million hectare used for biotech crop by over 17 million farmers in over 28 countries worldwide.
However, there are counter arguments too. "The very idea of this populist measure looks gloomy," says Prof. P. Balasubramanian, Department of Plant Biotechnology, Centre for Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. He adds, "One can figure out well that the Government is desperately trying to treat for the superficial symptoms while conveniently forgetting to stem the rot lying within. The food is plenty in this country and problem is with its distribution. The lack of coordination between the state and the federal governments on this score adds insult to the injury."
Noted food and trade policy analyst, Mr Devinder Sharma while articulating his point of view mentioned, " The path to hell is always paved with good intentions. The bill is no exception. Although I agree that there is an urgent need to reach out to the deprived population, but what is more important is to ensure that the poor and hungry are able to fish for food rather than depend upon doles. Unfortunately, the people who designed the bill looked at only the distribution aspects, on how to reach food to the hungry millions. Where they missed out is the strong linkage food security has with agriculture. This disconnect with sustainable agriculture will add on to the hungry population in the years to come."