Food and Nutritional Security : Trends In Food production and consumption in India

India is the third largest producer of cereals, with only China and the USA ahead of it. India occupies the first position in milk production and is the third largest producer of fish and second largest producer of inland fisheries in the world. According to ministry of Agriculture ,India is likely to produce a record 273.38 million tonnes of food grains 2016/17, slightly higher than the previous estimate of 271.98 million tonnes.

Economic growth is typically accompanied by improvements in a country’s food supply, both quantitative and qualitative, and a gradual reduction in nutritional deficiencies.  It also brings about changes in the production, processing, distribution and marketing of food. Diets evolve over time and are influenced by factors such as income, prices, individual preferences and beliefs, cultural traditions, as well as geographical, environmental, social and economic factors.

India faces a greater food challenge – having only 2.3 per cent share in world’s total land area it has to ensure food security to about 17.5 per cent of the world’s population. Total foodgrain production is estimated at an all-time high of 272 million tonnes in 2016-17, 8% higher than the 251.6 million tonnes last year, and surpassing the previous record of 265 million tonnes in 2013-14.

Wheat production is estimated to rise by 4.7% to 96.6 million tonnes in 2016-17 (compared to 92.3 million tonnes in 2015-16),

Production of pulses is likely to rise 35% from 16.4 million tonnes last year to 22.1 million tonnes in 2016-17.

Production of rice, the most popular staple, is estimated to increase by over 2 million tonnes, from 104.4 million tonnes last year to 106.7 million tonnes in 2016-17.

As per 2nd Advance Estimates, the estimated production of major crops during 2016-17 is as under:


Foodgrains  –  271.98 million tonnes (record)

  • Rice  –  108.86  million tonnes (record)
  • Wheat – 96.64 million tonnes (record)
  • Coarse Cereals  –  44.34 million tonnes (record)
  • Maize  –  26.15 million tonnes (record)
  • Pulses  –  22.14 million tonnes (record)
  • Gram – 9.12 million tonnes
  • Tur  –  4.23 million tonnes (record)
  • Urad  –  2.89 million tonnes (record)

Oilseeds  –  33.60 million tonnes (record)

  • Soyabean  –  14.13 million tonnes
  • Groundnut  –  8.47 million tonnes
  • Castorseed – 1.74 million tonnes

Cotton  –  32.51 million bales (of 170 kg each)

Sugarcane – 309.98 million tonnes

Benefiting from the green revolution technologies introduced in 1965-66, the per capita net availability of foodgrains per annum in India increased from 144.1 kg per capita per year in 1951 to a peak of 186.2 kg per capita per year in 1991. Post-1990s though, there is a clear decline in the per capita foodgrain availability which has declined to 160.1 kg per capita per year in 2010.

Since agricultural growth is limited, imports can help improve the country’s supply situation for a short term. But for the long term, the country will need to focus on productivity enhancement, through public investment in irrigation, research and efficient use of water, plant nutrition and other inputs.

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