National Food Security Act (NFSA)

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    • The Union Cabinet recently decided to provide free foodgrains to all 81 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) till December 2023.

    More about the news

    • New changes in NFSA
      • Beneficiaries will now get 35kg of foodgrains free for the next year and others will get 5kg for free in a month till December 2023. 
        • The Union government has estimated an additional amount of ?2 lakh crore for the scheme. Entire expenses for the scheme would be borne by the Union Government.
      • What is NFSA?
        • The Union government provides food grains (rice at Rs 3 per kg, wheat at Rs 2 per kg, and coarse grains at Rs 1 per kg) under the NFSA.
        • The act aims to ensure people’s food and nutritional security by assuring access to enough high-quality food at reasonable prices.
        • The NFSA covers 50 per cent of the urban population and 75 per cent of the rural population
        • There are two categories of beneficiary households under the NFSA:
          • Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY): the AAY households are entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains per month irrespective of the number of family members.
          • The Priority Households: the priority households get food grains depending on the number of family members (each member 5 kg per month).
    • The government has discontinued the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana: 
      • It was launched in 2020 amid Covid-19 under which 5 kg of free food grains was provided to every person on top of the NFSA entitlement of 5 kg of foodgrains at subsidised rates.
      • The scheme has now been merged with the NFSA.
    • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs also approved the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for copra for the 2023 season.
      • It is chaired by the PM.
      • The approval is based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices
      • The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. [NAFED] and the National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation [NCCF] will continue to act as Central Nodal Agencies for the procurement of copra and de-husked coconut under the Price Support Scheme

    Significance of the move 

    • Food security legislation: for the first time India will have a Central food security legislation which gives the poor the right to receive 5 kg of food grains free of cost.
    • The decision softens the blow as the poor may suffer with the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana being discontinued.
    • Saving revenue: Discontinuing the PMGKAY would save the government Rs 15,000 crore a month or about Rs 1.8 lakh crore a year.

    Way forward

    • PM’s vision: He has taken a historic decision to provide food security to the poor free of cost across the country.
      • The Prime Minister’s Garib Kalyan Ann Yojna also ensured 5kg of foodgrains for the poor for free for a long time.
    • Buffer stocks: The Government has been maintaining that the country has adequate storage of foodgrains to meet the welfare schemes.
    • Reforms needed: The NITI Aayog has suggested that the national rural and urban coverage ratio be reduced from the existing 75-50 to 60-40. If this reduction happens, the number of beneficiaries under the NFSA will drop to 71.62 crores based on the projected population in 2020.
      • To make these changes in the law, the government will have to amend sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the NFSA which will require parliamentary approval.

    Source: TH