An exploratory study on large-scale feeding programmes and the possibility of linkage with small and marginal farmers

An exploratory study on large-scale feeding programmes and the possibility of linkage with small and marginal farmers

India is the seventh largest country geographically, second most populated and the twelfth largest economy in the world. The economy of India is diverse, with a number of major sectors including manufacturing industries, agriculture, textiles, handicrafts and services. Agriculture is a major component of the Indian economy. More than 75 percent of Indians have their livelihoods in agriculture and agriculture- oriented works. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Indian economy lives in rural villages” and many of the industries get their raw materials from the agricultural sector.

This paper is the outcome of an exploratory study undertaken to investigate the possibility of linking small and marginal farmers directly to large-scale public feeding programmes for market access. The feeding programmes studied were the Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). Feeding operations in Government hospitals, hostels and prisons were also studied. A supplementary feeding programme run by a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) and that of a private industrial canteen was also included in the study. The investigation was carried out in six states namely Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

The major objectives of the study were

  1. To estimate the requirement of food grains for the various programmes
  2. To assess the local capacity for supply
  3. Explore the economic advantage to farmers in linking with the programmes
  4. Understand the policy and implementation aspects of such a linkage.

Given the diversity of contexts in which the programmes are placed and the conditions of farmers and support by State, some general as well as state-specific recommendations have been made. While specific recommendations are made for Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, further investigations are needed for Maharashtra and Odisha before any conclusions can be arrived at.