The food insecurity atlas of MSSRF & WFP reveals that every S7tate in the country has its strengths and weaknesses in relation to the five major dimensions considered in the analyses. These are: availability of food, which is a function of production, access to food, which is related to purchasing power, absorption of food in the body, which is determined by the availability of safe drinking water, environmental hygiene, primary health care and primary education, vulnerability to transient hunger, which is related to natural and man-made calamities and disasters, and sustainability of production, which is influenced by the extent of attention given to the ecological foundations essential for sustained advances in production. The Atlas reveals that non-food factors, like livelihood and income-earning opportunities, health care facilities, education, sanitation and environmental hygiene are as important for food security at the level of every individual, as factors relating to the availability of food grains in the market and access to clean drinking water.
The Atlas provides an opportunity for State Governments to draw up food security balance sheets based on strengths and weaknesses, and to identify the "hot spots" with reference to endemic and transient hunger, as well as to open (i.e. protein-calorie under nutrition) and hidden (i.e. micronutrient deficiencies) hunger.
While we should give the highest priority to improving food consumption and equitable distribution, we should not decelerate our efforts in improving agricultural production through yield improvement, higher factor productivity and better post-harvest management. Agricultural production, factor productivity and investment in irrigation and post-harvest and rural infrastructure are all declining in India. Prices of many agricultural commodities have collapsed and Indian farm families are in deep economic and psychological distress. This trend, if not arrested immediately, will lead to social chaos, since agriculture (crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry, agro-processing and small scale agri-business) is not just a food producing machine, but is the backbone of the livelihood security system for nearly 700 million children, women and men in the country. There is no time to relax on the food production front, just because the major problem today is in the area of marketing and distribution. At the same time, we should not continue to remain silent spectators to the co-existence of mountains of grains and millions of hungry.
From Green to an Ever-green Revolution
The first 60 years of the 20th century were marked by a sense of despair and frustration regarding India’s capability to achieve a balance between human numbers and the production of foodgrains and other agricultural commodities. In 1968, this mood of despair and diffidence gave way to one of optimism and self confidence in relation to our agricultural potential and our farmers’ ability to adapt and adopt new technologies, a phenomenon which was christened in that year as "Green Revolution". This agricultural transformation helped to strengthen national sovereignty in many areas, including the capacity to remain non-aligned in foreign policy.
Our agriculture is now at the crossroads. On the one hand, our national capability in frontier areas of science and technology, as for example in biotechnology, information, communication and space technologies, nuclear and renewable energy technologies and in management science, has opened up uncommon opportunities for achieving an evergreen revolution i.e. sustainable advances in crop productivity per units of land, water and time without associated ecological harm.