National Food Security Act – Objectives, Significance, NFSA UPSC PDF

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013 was enacted to facilitate food and nutritional security in the human life cycle approach by certifying access to apt quality food at cost-effective prices for people to lead a life of dignity. National Food Security Act aims to provide food supplies and nutritional security in a human-comprehensive approach. This is done by ensuring that individuals have access to enough decent food in sufficient quantities at rates that they can afford to support a dignified lifestyle. The National Food Security Act (NFSA) implies a fundamental shift in the approach toward food security.

The National Food Security Act is an important topic of the UPSC Mains GS Paper 2 and is also relevant from the Prelims point of view. The article discusses the NFSA 2013, the National Food Security Mission, its relevance, and the beneficiaries entitled through the National Food Security Act.

What is National Food Security Act (NFSA)?

According to the National Food Security Act- NFSA, up to 75% of the rural and half of the urban populations are entitled to subsidized food grains. This is legally provided through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). The TDPS covers 50% of the urban and 75% of the rural populations, with a uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month. However, under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), the poorest of the poor households will be receiving 35 kg of food grains per household per month. Therefore, almost two-thirds of the population is covered by this act.

The National Food Security Act is moving away from a welfare-based approach to one based on the rights of the citizens of our country. The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, is being executed in all the states and UTs throughout the country.

Identifying beneficiaries by state or utilities is an integral part of the process. It includes the removal of ineligible/fake/duplicate ration cards, elimination due to death, migration, etc., and cooperation due to birth.

Salient Features of NFSA

Up to 75% of the rural and 50% of the urban populations are covered by NFSA through the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme and the priority households. The entitlements under the National Food Security Act include:

  • Priority homes are entitled to 5 kilograms of food per person per month.
  • While AAY households represent the lowest of the poor or are entitled to 35 kilograms per family per month.
  • The former Planning Commission (now Niti Aayog) used the NSS household consumption survey data for 2011-2012 to estimate the state-wise coverage under the NSSA. This corresponded to the coverage rates of all of India, of 75% and 50% in rural and urban regions, respectively.
  • The task of identifying potential households within the scope under TPDS established for each state is to be completed by states/UTs.
  • The development of a basis for selecting priority households and their actual verification falls under the purview of the state government’s duties.
  • According to section 10 of the act, the state shall designate the households under AAY following the guidelines of the scheme.
  • The ones left as priority households would be looked at under TPDS, according to the guidelines as the state government may specify.

Significance of National Food Security Act 2013

NFSA is aimed to boost the agricultural industry. An increase in the agricultural sector would lead to more excellent job opportunities. It would also assist the government in regulating food costs.

  • As a result, poverty would decline, and economic growth would be promoted.
  • Food security is crucial for the country’s global safety and stability and for the population’s general health.
  • Before the NFSA, Article 21’s Right to life was considered to include the right to a dignified existence, which may include the right to food and other essentials of life.
  • The Indian constitution did not specifically include the right to food.

Objectives of National Food Security Act

The National Food Security Act or NFSA was introduced on 5th July 2013. It marked a higher leap towards the subject of food security and introducing it to the world as a right of consumers. The main objectives of the NFSA were-

  • The National Food Security Act aimed to incorporate the concept of food security along with nutritional security in the life of human beings.
  • It aims to provide food of the best quality in enough quantity.
  • The food should be affordable and within the reach of those who actually need it.
  • The act also aims that children and women would get the proper nutrition that they require to lead a healthy life.
  • The NFSA aims to distribute rationed food grains to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population.

Provisions of NFSA

The National Food Security Act is all about providing good and nutritious food to people at an affordable price. Food security is the central idea behind the introduction of this act. Certain provisions of the NFSA have been provided below-

  • The Act aims to provide comprehensive coverage to the people under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
  • The NFSA intends to provide Rs 60,000 as maternity benefits to all lactating mothers and pregnant women.
  • As per the National Food Security Act of 2013, the head of the household should be the eldest woman in order to get the ration card issued. The woman should be of or above 18 years of age.
  • Village Committees will be established to keep a check on the progress and activities and to enable transparency.
  • A person is entitled to a ‘food security allowance’ in the case where the required food supplies were not handed over.

Beneficiaries Under NFSA

Under two main kinds of beneficiaries, the act includes two-thirds of the overall population. The two beneficiaries are aimed to fulfill the objectives of the NFSA. These beneficiaries are as follows:

Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) Households

  • The AAY households are those headed by widows, disabled people, or those 60 years of age or more without a guaranteed source of livelihood and support from the extended family or society.
  • Typically it also considers the household of people who live in poverty.
  • Support for women and children is also included.

Priority Households (PHHs)

  • People who live in eligible households, or PHHs, are granted the opportunity to receive food grains at subsidized cost by the NFSA.
  • This group includes a sizable portion of priority sector ration card holders.
  • This is an initiative to combat poverty.
  • The states in the duties are responsible for identifying eligible households with the scope of TPDS coverage specified for each state.

Obligations of NFSA 2013

There are numerous obligations under the National Food Security Act. Walk through the illustrated details of the obligations held by different strata of Government as listed here. The Government at all level hold numerous responsibilities for the fulfillment of the NFSA.

  • Central Government: The storage facilities are maintained by the Central Government. It transports the food grains from the central pool and allocates them to the States. The obligations of the Central Government also include proper allocation of food grains with respect to the members of the household.
  • State Government: They take care of the effective implementations of the schemes across their states. The main obligation of the State Government is to store the transported foodgrains in a proper space.
  • Local Authorities: The prime responsibility of the local authorities is to implement the schemes properly in order to fulfil the objectives of the National Food Security Act [NFSA].

National Food Security Mission

The Indian government started the National Food Security Mission (NFSM), a centrally sponsored program, in 2007 in response to stagnant food grain output and rising population-related consumption needs. The National Development Council’s (NDC) agriculture subcommittee recommended launching the program with the following objectives:

  • To boost rice, wheat, and pulses production through area expansion.
  • Productivity development while restoring the fertility of the soil and hence improving productivity.
  • Increasing the farm-level economy by generating jobs.

Targets Under NFSM

The NFSM was pursued with the objective that by the end of the 12th five-year plan, the mission would have produced an estimated 25 million tonnes of food grains, made up of

  • 10 million tonnes of rice,
  • 8 million tonnes of wheat,
  • 4 million tonnes of pulses, and
  • 3 million tonnes of coarse cereals.

The program was extended through 2019-2020, which coincided with the end of the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) tenure, based on past performance and experience with the 12th-year plan. The goal for the additional foodgrain output was 13 million tonnes, including:

  • Rice accounts for 5 million tonnes.
  • Wheat accounting for 3 million tonnes.
  • Pulses accounting for 3 million tonnes, and
  • Coarse cereals account for 2 million tonnes.

Important Segments Under NFSM

The National Food Security Mission includes the following important components:

  • NFSM Rice
  • NFSM Wheat
  • NFSM Coarse cereals
  • NFSM Pulses
  • NFSM Commercial crops and
  • NFSM Nutri-cereals (millets)

Food Preservation Commission

The Food Preservation Commission is appointed in accordance with the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013. The Food Preservation Commission is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 in the state.

Formation of Rules under the NFSA by Central Government

According to NFSA, Section 39 (1), the Central Government can enact rules to implement the act’s provisions after coordinating with the State Governments and notifying the public. The central government has announced the following rules in the past:

  • Provisioning Funds to State Governments for Short Supply of Foodgrains Rules, 2014.
  • Food Security Allowance Rules, 2015.
  • Food Security (Assistance to State Government Rules), 2015
  • Cash Transfer of Food Subsidy Rules, 2015.
  • Notification of WCD and HRD.
  • According to Section 40 of the National Food Security Act, the State Government may issue regulations to implement the act’s provisions upon notification. This is done following the Act and any rules the state government imposes.

National Food Security Act Criticisms

The implementation of the NFSA also faced criticisms due to defects and loopholes at certain points. It does not provide a clear picture and is devoid of transparency, meaning in certain cases the wrong people have been advantaged from the schemes launched under NFSA. There is also an ordeal in storing the food grains scientifically. The quality of food grain was also found to have deteriorated.

The effectiveness of the National Food Security Act [NFSA] can be increased to a degree by the effective usage and application of Information Technology methods. A surge in the effective storage methods for foodgrains. The expanded and integrated method of securing the foodgrains and the storage facilities can be used.

National Food Security Act UPSC

The NFSA is an essential part of the UPSC Syllabus. The topic is covered in Prelims and Mains sometimes. IAS Interview questions are even asked on this topic. For this reason, it is vital to constantly keep referring to Current Affairs to be updated with the latest developments.

National Food Security Act (NFSA) UPSC

You can also refer to the available UPSC study material and previous year’s question papers to gain more knowledge on the NFSA topic. The candidates can refer to the PDF to comprehensively prepare for the exam.

NFSA UPSC Questions

It is highly essential for the candidates to practice the previous year papers to get acquainted with the exam pattern. The candidates can get the complete details of the exam to be able to mark the essential segments of the exam pattern. Check here the sample questions that have been curated here.

Question: The National Food Security Act of 2013 (NFSA) will be implemented throughout the states and union territories. Take into account the following claims concerning this: [1] Following the act’s provisions, food grains will be distributed to 80.72 crore people who state and local governments have identified as eligible under this act. [2] The NFSA does not include any national or district-level commission provision. [3] There are two categories of coverage under the act- Priority households and Antyodaya Anna Yojana.

Which of the claims mentioned above are true? [A] 1 and 2,  [B] 2 and 3, [C] 1 and 3,  [D] 1,2 and 3

Answer: (Option D) 1,2 and 3 Following the act’s provisions, food grains will be distributed to 80.72 crore people who state and local governments have identified as eligible under this act. The NFSA does not include any national or district-level commission provision. There are two categories of coverage under the act- Priority households and Antyodaya Anna Yojana.

Question: In accordance with the provisions of the National Food Security Act 2013, consider the following statements: [1] The families under the Below Poverty Line [BPL], are only eligible for receiving subsidized food grains. [2] Pregnant women and lactating mothers are eligible for the take-home ration of 1600 calories per day. [3] The eldest woman of the house, of 18 years and above will be considered the head of the house for the purpose of issuing the ration card.

Which of the statements is correct? [A] 1,2,3 [B] 2 only [C] 3 only [D] 1 only

Answer: Option C (3 only) The eldest woman of the house, 18 years and above will be considered the head of the house for the purpose of issuing the ration card.

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