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Building Food Security in India: a Case Study of Bihar

Galhena, Dilrukshi Hashini
The scope of this study is to review and understand the food situation in the State of Bihar in India by examining the agricultural and food systems including the crop, livestock and fisheries sub-sectors. Then identify key constraints to the agricultural production and challenges to food security in terms of food availability, food accessibility, and food adequacy. Finally, this study examines the current strategies and interventions to address food security situation in the State of Bihar and in India. Mixed methodology and techniques were used to gather quantitative and qualitative data and information for this study using literature review, review of unpublished reports and documents, and site visits to New Delhi and Bihar. The study was carried out at both macro and micro levels. At the macro level the study investigated the general trends in food availability in India and in the State of Bihar. Accessibility and adequacy were evaluated at the micro level in terms of food prices, household income, and nutritional intake. The State Government of Bihar has taken positive steps to address food security issues through an ambitious Road Map. The New Road Map is devised to improve the agricultural sector by identifying weak parameters and addressing these constraints through various State wide interventions. Although all targets set by the Road Map may be hard to achieve in the set time frame of four years, some progress is already underway in terms of access to agricultural inputs and marketing. If the current interventions and support for food production and food security programs are sustained, Bihar's food security situation is expected to improve and millions of rural and urban poor can be lifted out of poverty and hunger. The review and analysis of the Road Map indicates that the programs and schemes are heavily focused on enhancing and ensuring food production and availability and to some extent on food accessibility. However, the Road Map does not adequately address the issue of food utilization/adequacy especially in terms of food intake, food safety and nutritional quality aspects. In order to develop a comprehensive food security program in Bihar, all the components should be addressed and supported. The implementation of the Road Map is still in the early stages. For this Road Map to achieve its goals it needs to be implemented effectively and monitored closely. It will take several years to see the real impacts of this Road Map and new interventions. Further, research will be required to measure the real impacts of this Road Map for enhancing food security in Bihar.