Social Scientist. v 3, no. 35 (June 1975) p. 21.

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Political Economy of Food


THE FIRST PART of this study (Social Scientist 34, May 1975) dealt with vital factors governing foodgrain production. Of equal importance is the sphere of distribution which involves net production procurement, import, change in government stock and public distribution and exchange in the free market, that is, market arrivals other than public procurement. Actual demand and consumption are different and related to supply and prices* It is therefore proposed to separate the discussion on distribution from that on consumption of foodgrains.

Table XV presents data relating to net production, public procure-^ ment, import, public distribution and availability of cereals. In this table fluctuations in the rate of per capita availability per day indicate nothing but erratic trends in production, and in import of cereals. Public distribu* tion is divided into several types: statutory rationing, modified rationing, jail distribution and occasional distribution for a temporary period in famine or drought-stricken areas. We shall see later that cereals supplied even through statutory rationing—where generally the highest quota per head is supplied—is less than sufficient. As a result, in metropolitan cities and in other urban centres a sizable quantity of cereals is sold in the free market. It is here that a part of rural surplus of better cereals (rice and wheat) is generally sold at very high prices, automatically generating

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