The following points highlight the three main conditions on which the supply of food grains in India depends. The conditions are: 1. Decline in Production 2. Decline in Marketed Surplus 3. Difficulty of Imports.
Condition # 1. Decline in Production:
In the first place, it depends upon production. Since 1951, when India introduced the First Five-Year Plan agricultural production started rising. The trend continued till 1964-65, when production touched 89 million tonnes. In 1965-66 and 1966-67, output had declined considerably because of widespread failure of the monsoons.
In 1965-66, India produced only 72 million tonnes and in 1966-67, she produced 76 million tonnes. This decline in production of food grains in the face of rise in demand results in very great rise in prices of foodstuffs. Production of food grains since 1967-68 had been rising and touched a record output of 108 mn. tonnes in 1970-71.
Since then, output of food grains has fluctuated badly touching 97 million tonnes in 1972-73 and 101 million tonnes is 1974-75. It is only in 1975-76 that the output of food grains was placed at 116 million tonnes. In the year 2008-09 there was a record production of food grain to the terms of 234.47 million tones.
Decline in food production and difficulty to augment internal supplies through imports are basic factors for our food problem, wherever there has been a monsoon failure, agricultural production declines and process shoot up.
Condition # 2. Decline in Marketed Surplus:
Supply of food grains in the market depends upon the surplus which the farmers are prepared to sell in the market. The Indian farmers have started restricting the sale of their surplus food in the market, in order to get better prices. Besides, farmers are becoming rich and have greater holding capacity. The failure of the Government to takeover of wheat trade is due to farmers refusing to sell to the Government.
Condition # 3. Difficulty of Imports:
Imports of food grains have been affected by the ability of India to buy from foreign countries and the supply of food grains which other countries can spare for India. The only source available is the United States of America which has been very generous in helping India. But for the timely help which the U.S.A. had extended, India would have suffered a major calamity in 1965-67.
Since then, imports came down considerably partly because of the Government’s efforts at self-reliance and partly because of good crops of the country. Food imports touched the low of 0.5 million tonnes in 1972.
The food problem became really acute since the middle of 1972 because of the failure of internal production, difficulties of importing food grains from abroad and the failure of public distribution system. The Government has again started with pushing up imports (6.5 million tonnes in 1976).