Food situation in the world in general and in Africa in particular is not as alarming as the protests against food grain prices in several countries, as also the warnings by FAO economists suggest. Low production is a very serious matter which defies solutions but price increase is not impossible to be tackled by increasing/extending subsidies, loans etc. While main food grain producing countries have witnessed slight decline of less than 1.5% in production,(less than 10% of carry forward stock) most of the African countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, Zimbabwe etc. have recorded higher production in 2010 than in the previous year. Higher prices in 2010 for food grains are likely to lead to a higher production in 2011, as farmers will be encouraged to try to produce more, by higher income. The lower production of food grains in main producing countries will only mean lower stocks being carried forward to the next year and not non-availability of food grains.
It is also heartening to note that wages in most of the African countries have increased during the last few years and thus people have more money to meet the higher food grain prices. It is also pleasing to note that among the 20 fastest growing economies in the world, as many as 11 are in Africa. In other world, out of 53 African countries, 11 are witnessing very high economic growth rates. (Among the 140 non-African countries, only 9 are witnessing high growth rates.). Thus, the people will be able to absorb the higher prices without much difficulty.
From the long term view also, India alone has the potential to double its production of food grains from about 225 million tonnes to 450 million tonnes. If India achieves just 50% of its additional food grain production potential, the world will not have food insecurity at all. Even without bringing in additional land under cultivation, Africa has the potential to double its production, as its yield is very low. What is required is substantial investment in irrigation projects.
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If son does not care for parents then
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The per capita production of food grains (rice, wheat, coarse grains and pulses) in India is less than 200kg per year while in the world it is over300 kg. This means that India’s performance in agriculture needs to be improved vastly. In India among the various states, Tamilnadu’s performance is very poor. During 2009-10, India produced 218 million tonnes for a population of around 1180 million. The per capita production is about 185 kg per year. Tamilnadu state produced about 8.0 million tonnes for a population of about 67 million people, which works out to a per capita production of only 120kg per year.
India’s production went up from 176 million tonnes in 1990-91 to 218 million tonnes in 2009-10 which works out to about 24%increase in 20 years. This increase itself is low. But increase in Tamilnadu is very much lower at 8% from 7.4 million tonnes in 1990-91 to only 8.0 million tonnes in 2009-10.
The reasons for the slow growth in production in Tamilnadu are:
• unremunerative prices for agricultural products resulting from high cost of agricultural labour.
• insufficient water for irrigation. During rainy season, large quantity of water flows into the sea without irrigating fields, as water is released from reservoirs even though not required, for want of storage space. So the urgent need is to construct more reservoirs which could be even underground reservoirs if necessary.
• During rainy season, large quantity of water stagnates in shallow ditches. This water evaporates in 15-20 days after the rainy season. The period of stagnation is short and the depth of ditches is low and these do not permit recharge of underground water. What is required is to drain this water into nearby lakes where lakes exist nearby or to construct lakes in suitable area.
• Fertilizer use is satisfactory. In addition, there is enough manure by way of cow dung, chicken refuse, dry and green leaves etc.