"It embarrasses me that some members of the NAC, instead of getting down to hard realities, have been discussing food security in newspapers," Venugopal said. "The newspaper is not a forum for solving the problems of food security, but that's exactly what some of the members of NAC are doing without getting down to the task of bringing food and nutrition security to the people," he said.
Venugopal was delivering the key-note address on 'Food Security and More' at the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) here. "The members of NAC have made food security appear as Public Distribution System (PDS), but food security is much more than PDS," he said.
"Food Security deals about ensuring that we have production...that we distribute properly and also with a focus on nutrition security," Venugopal said. A National Food Security (NFS) Act, 2010, which is in the offing and reviewed by an empowered Group of Ministers and NAC, should be a food-cum-nutrition law and it should integrate the two concerns of food security and nutrition security, he said.
Enhanced food grains production and productivity in general, and in rain-fed areas in particular, would pave the way for an autonomous, decentralised PDS which should be the goal of public policy in India's march to food and nutrition security, the former secretary said.
"We need to build on some of the existing programmes through an appropriate strategy for increased agricultural production, with a new emphasis on dryland agriculture," Venugopal said. Some of the programmes also need drastic overhaul and all these programmes have to be viewed as complementing one another so that necessary linkages are created to make food and nutrition security a reality in terms of quantity and quality, he pointed out.
He also suggested to merge the beneficiaries of 'Antyodaya Anna Yojana' and the 'Annapurna Scheme' and provide them food grains free of cost. After the merger the programme can be named as 'Antyodaya Anna Yojana', he said.