Karnataka CM flags food security scheme at WEF

Bangalore, Sep 13 (IANS) Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah Friday showcased his government's flagship programme of providing 30 kg rice at Re.1 per kg to the poor at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Dalian in eastern China.

Participating in a plenary session on 'food security imperative' at the three-day meeting of the forum in the Dalian international convention centre, Siddaramaiah told about 500 delegates from the world over that food security was close to his heart as it would ensure right to food for all and no person would go hungry in the state, a statement said here.

"Announcing the subsidized food scheme (Anna Bhagya) for about 10 million below poverty line (BPL) families was the first executive decision I took on assuming office May 13, fulfilling one of promises we made to the people in our party manifesto ahead of the assembly elections," he said.

Explaining the salient features of the scheme to the international audience, the chief minister said the scheme would be strengthened once the Food Security Act of the central government was implemented in the state too.

"Under the central government's food security scheme, the state will not only receive more quantity of food grains, but also get rice at Rs.3 per kg and wheat at Rs.2 per kg, which reduce the state's subsidy burden of Rs.4,200 crore per annum," Siddaramaiah said making a powerpoint presentation on the scheme at the plenary.

Asserting that the scheme would mandate stakeholders to strive for self-sufficiency in food grain production, the chief minister said as a facilitator, the state government would work on building storage capacity and streamline the public distribution system to prevent leakages and wastage.

In response to a query from the audience, the chief minister clarified that the food security scheme was helping the poor people to spend more from their income on their children's education and healthcare from the money saved on rice and wheat.

The chief minister also highlighted his government's other popular scheme of distributing free 150 ml of milk thrice a week to 10.4 million children in schools and child care centres across the state under the 'Ksheera Bhagya' scheme since Aug 1 at a cost of Rs.384 crore per annum. This is in addition to the mid-day meals to kids.

"Both the schemes are having good impact on the people as they address the problem of undernourishment and make the state hunger free and malnutrition free over the next five years," Siddaramaiah observed.

He also interacted at the food conference with other panelists, including Katia Abreu, president, Confederacao Nacionalda Agricultura (CNA), Brazil, Feike Sijbesma, chairman of the board of royal DSM, the Netherlands, and Wu Changhua, director, Greater China.

US-based Landsea chief executive Tim Hanstad moderated the panel discussion, which deliberated on food safety, climate change and food sovereignty.

"As the country will need about 300 million tonnes of food grains every year by 2020 to feed over a billion people, we are embarking on best practices in agriculture such as micro-irrigation, watershed management, integrated farming and use of IT solutions," Siddaramaiah noted.

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