THE FOOD SITUATION IN INDIA W. E. AYKROYD Food planning in wartime is...
THE FOOD SITUATION IN INDIA
W. E. AYKROYD
Food planning in wartime is one of the most urgent needs of every nation involved in
the present world turmoil. In this article Dr. Aykroyd discusses food control in Great
Britain and Ceylon and its implications with regard to the food situation in India.
Dr. Aykroyd is the Director of Nutrition Research Laboratories of the Indian Research
Fund Association in Coonoor, South India.
WAR, famine, pestilence—how often has the sequence recurred in the
dismal story of mankind ! In modern times the third monster is less
to be feared—its claws have been clipped and its teeth drawn—though
indeed some think that the formidable pandemic of influenza which afflicted
the world in 1918-19 was in some way, not fully understood, a result of the
war. But war still leads inevitably to famine. At the end of the last war-
there was widespread starvation in Europe and a little later social disinte-
gration led to terrible famines in Russia. In the present war there is already
famine in Greece, and Italy and various parts of occupied Europe are feeling
the pinch. The invasion of Russia and the overrunning of the rich granary
of the Ukraine may cause serious problems of food supply even after the in-
vader has been expelled.
In comparison with many countries, India is in a fortunate position as
regards her food supplies. She has not been invaded and land under cultiva-
tion is producing its usual quota of crops. In England, where previously
imports amounted to no less than 70 per cent of total food supplies, the war
has produced the most far-reaching changes in the national diet. This has not
been the case in India. But India cannot hope to escape altogether the impact
of the world war.
IMPORTS.—Food imports and exports in normal times are small in relation
to total indigenous food production; that is to say, India is largely a self-suffi-
cient country as regards her food supply. Her self-sufficiency is, however,
not absolute. Within recent years Burma rice, and, to a lesser extent, rice from
Indo-China and Thailand, has been imported to make good a shortage in home
production. Rice imports in recent years have amounted to about 4-5 per cent
of the rice supplies of India as a whole; in the Madras Presidency the per-
centage of imports to total supplies was higher, probably from 10 to 15 per cent.
In normal times there is a small import of expensive products, such as
tinned and cold storage foods, but the use of these is confined to a small section
of the population and they may be disregarded in considering the situation as

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a whole. There is no great hardship in doing without imported marmalade,
biscuits or breakfast cereals. One or two imported foods, e.g., dried milk
powder and cod liver oil, are of importance from the standpoint of nutrition,
but of no quantitative significance. Skimmed milk powder from New Zealand
in normal times a relatively cheap product, has been of value in supplement-
ing the diet of children in institutions unable to afford or obtain fresh milk.
Within recent years the use of somewhat expensive dried milks (not skimmed)
in the feeding of infants and young children has been growing in popularity
among the sections of the community able to afford it. Such milks are con-
venient, reliable in quality and free from infection or contamination, while in
many parts of the country fresh milk of good quality is difficult to obtain.
The popularity of imported dried milks is fully understandable. There is,
however, no reason why infants and children should not thrive without their
use, should imports be cut off, provided mothers who have previously relied on
them exercise care in the choice, preparation and modification of locally pro-
duced milk.
Cod liver oil, imported mainly from Norway before the war, is a
medicine or food of great value because it is rich in vitamins A and D, and
ill-health and disease due to insufficiency of these factors in the diet are very
prevalent in various parts of India. Fortunately a liver oil rich in vitamins
is not a monopoly of the cod; it is, indeed, a characteristic which the cod
shares with most fish that swim in the sea. In India a substitute for cod liver
oil has been found in shark liver oil, which is now being produced in reason-
able quantities at various coastal centres and widely used in hospitals and
dispensaries. There is at the moment a world shortage of fish liver oils and
this new industry may prove a valuable asset to the country.
A passing reference may be made to imported vitamin preparations—
i.e. pure synthetic vitamins, vitamin concentrates and tonics. Such prepara-
tions have their place in clinical medicine in India; for example, the admi-
nistration of pure vitamin B1 is the most effective form of treatment of acute
beriberi in infants and adults; pure riboflavin (a member of the B2 group of
vitamins) is needed for treating certain eye and tongue conditions; vitamin
A concentrates are of value in the treatment of keratomalacia. Vitamin pre-
parations are indeed often prescribed unnecessarily, e.g., to patients who are
not suffering from vitamin deficiency. They may also be taken by people who
could easily obtain all the vitamins they need from a well-balanced diet. Some
vitamin preparations are in short supply, or will be before the war is over.
England is naturally chary of exporting vitamins at present; there is no sense
in sending valuable food out of a beleaguered city. While a shortage of im-
ported vitamins will undoubtedly make the treatment of certain deficiency

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W. R. AYKROYD
diseases less effective, it is difficult to regard it as being of major importance
in relation to the food situation as a whole. To some extent use can be made
of substitutes—e.g. of dried yeast instead of marmite—or limited supplies can
be reserved for patients in serious need.
EXPORTS.—Food exports previous to the war were small; for example,
exports of rice amounted to less than one per cent of the total crop. It follows
that loss of overseas markets does not have the effect of greatly increasing food
supplies within the country. Actually the quantity of grain required for export
has been increased as a result of the war. Wheat has been sent overseas to feed
armies and civil populations. Ceylon, cut off like India from supplies of
Burma rice, has to be provided with food. Previous to the war exports of rice
from India to Ceylon amounted to some 88,000 tons, a very small fraction of
the total production of about 29 million tons. The population of Ceylon (6
millions) is only 1.5 per cent of the population of India and great efforts are
being made in Ceylon to increase food production. Nevertheless, the require-
ments of Ceylon will add to the rice shortage. The loss of markets for
groundnuts and certain other cash crops allows land hitherto producing such
crops to be turned over to food production.
INCREASED INTERNAL FOOD REQUIREMENTS.—Orr and Lubbock1, discuss-
ing food resources in Great Britain in the first year of the war, make the
following comment:
"It must be remembered in planning our food supply that there will be
an increase in gross requirement for food. Men in the Fighting Forces need
about 4,000 calories per day, an increase of between 25 and 30 per cent over
the requirements of men in peace-time occupations. Before the War has
finished, we may have between three and four million men under arms. There
will also be a larger number of men engaged in the heavy industries. The
food requirement of every man who was formerly unemployed will be increased
by 30 per cent or more. Hence, the total national energy requirement will be
increased by between 5 and 10 per cent."
It is clear that in India any increase in the "total national energy
requirement" resulting from the war will be of a much smaller order, but
not altogether negligible. Some five hundred thousand refugees have entered
the country from Burma and elsewhere. Armies have to be maintained and
men in military service require and obtain more food than civilian industrial
and agricultural workers generally. Industry is booming, and the number of
industrial workers employed, particularly in heavy industries engaged in war
production, has considerably increased. This inevitably means an increase in
food requirements, for hard work cannot be carried out unless the worker
1 Feeding the People in War-time. Macmillan, 1940.

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151
receives sufficient fuel (calories) to make good his energy expenditure. If the
price of food remained constant, a general rise in wage levels, such as has
taken place within the last two years, would mean increased consumption of
food on the part of the wage-earners concerned. It has been repeatedly found
in diet surveys that low paid industrial and urban workers have a calorie in-
take below normal requirements. Any increase in real income will increase
their consumption. At the present time, however, the increase in wages
(dearness allowances, etc.) must be largely offset by the increase in the cost
of food and other necessities.
MARGIN OF SAFETY.—It has been said that India is largely self-sufficient
in food supply. This statement demands closer scrutiny. Even in normal
times the food supply of India plus imports does not cover requirements in the
sense that the population is abundantly or satisfactorily fed. The diet of large
sections is deficient in quality and quantity and below generally accepted
standards of adequacy. Because of the existing bare minimum level of diet,
there is little "margin of safety" to allow for further restriction. Some years
ago (11)37) the author attempted to calculate the total food production of the
Madras Presidency and compare it with food requirements. While the investiga-
tion was difficult and on the whole unsatisfactory, owing to the absence of
adequate statistical data, it provided an indication of the state of affairs. It
was calculated that the total food available, including imports, was just suffi-
cient to cover total calorie requirements, reckoned on the basis of 2,500 calories
per consumption unit daily, provided it was evenly distributed. The conclusion
was as follows: "It seems clear that there is no appreciable excess of supply
over requirements, and that the imports of rice and other foods are necessary
to supplement internal production." The above conclusions as regards "lack
of margin" can probably be applied to the whole of India.
One way of meeting food shortage is to "tighten the belt." The
metaphor is inappropriate in India, where belts are not generally worn. It is
also inappropriate in the sense indicated in the preceding paragraph. There
is no surplus girth to be reduced.
TRANSPORT.—Transport difficulties are an important factor in the food
situation. The railways are overburdened and owing to the great demand for
rolling stock for carrying war materials there is a shortage for other purposes.
Petrol for lorries is in short supply. Now it is clear that the food supply of
village communities which habitually grow, prepare and consume their own food
will be relatively unaffected by dislocation in transport. What proportion of the
population falls into this category? The percentage living in " r u r a l " areas is
given as 89 in the 1931 census report. But the economy of rural areas may not
be the simple one of direct dependence on their own produce. Food crops may

152 W. R. AYKROYD
be essentially cash crops, the villager selling the grain he produces and buying
for his own needs grain of different kind or quality produced in some other
part of the country (or, before the Japanese war, in Burma).2
The admirable reports of the Agricultural Marketing Adviser to the
Government of India on wheat and rice provide some rough indication of the
proportion of the total supply of each grain, which is respectively prepared for
consumption by domestic means and processed in mills. About 28 per cent
of total rice supplies in British India (excluding Burma rice) is machine-
milled. The remainder, except for 2 per cent handled by the professional
dehusking class, is "dehusked into rice in the producer's homes by hand-
p o u n d i n g . " In the case of wheat it appears that about 11 per cent of the crop
is processed in roller mills. Of the remainder about half is ground by hand
in the villages and the other half ground in power driven chakkis in towns and
cities. The millets, of great importance as a staple food crop in India, are in
all probability directly consumed by those who grow them, to a greater extent
than in the case of wheat and rice. In general, the consumption of cereals
processed in power-driven mills will involve more use of transport than the
consumption of cereals pounded or ground in the home, or within the village.
Cities and industrial areas, areas producing cash crops, tea plantations,
etc., are of course dependent on food supplies which may normally be obtain-
ed from food-producing areas a considerable distance away. Madras City, for
example, is not situated in the centre of a large food-producing area and is
consequently dependent for its food supply mainly on imports by rail and sea.
During the last few months there has been a shortage of almost all food- stuffs
in Madras, whereas in Tanjore, Trichinopoly and Tinnevelly, situated in the
midst of large agricultural districts, conditions have been relatively normal.
India has thus moved far from simple and direct dependence on locally
produced food. A complicated marketing system for staple food crops, based
on modern transport facilities, has grown up. Clearly any move to uncom-
plicate the system—i.e., in the direction of greater dependence on crops
produced in the neighbourhood of the consumer—will help to save transport
and ease the food situation, and must be regarded as an essential part of a
rationally planned war-time food policy. No doubt under stress of circum-
stances there has been some change in this direction already.
MORE FOOD N E E D E D . — A t present it is difficult to estimate how serious
the food shortage is, or is likely to be.8 There does not appear to be any real
2 Malabar, a densely populated largely rural area, cannot produce enough rice to feed
itself and has for some years past relied on local or foreign imports.
3 According to an announcement made by the Hon'ble Member for Education, Health
and Lands, Government of India, on July 15th, 1942, the net deficit for 1941-42 is 2,100,0000
tons of rice and 400,000 tons of wheat.

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153
information about existing stocks—a point of essential importance. A few
years ago the Laboratories studied the possibility of increasing the use of
home-pounded or under-milled rice in place of machine-milled rice. One of the
points for consideration was the keeping qualities of the former, which are
unquestionably inferior to those of the latter. We reached the conclusion that
the more rapid deterioration of home-pounded or under-milled rice was not of
paramount importance, because " u n d e r ordinary circumstances, rice, with or
without its husk, is not stored for more than a few months. The province
lives, as it were, from hand to mouth as regards its food supply."* This
refers to Madras.
In times of food shortage people invariably assume that the scarcity and
high price of food are due to the villainy of middlemen, and that somewhere,
stored away in secret hoards, there are abundant stocks of food. Beyond
doubt there is much profiteering and some stocks are being held back in hope-
ful anticipation of famine prices. But we must avoid the idea that the solution
of the problem is entirely a matter of price regulation, the dispersal of stocks,
and so on, and that all would be well if a few profiteers were dealt with accord-
ing to their deserts and the remainder intimidated by the wholesome example.
Transport difficulties are important, but ways and means can be found of
circumventing them to a considerable extent. Behind the problems of distri-
bution and price there is the undeniable fact that for a number of years India
has been importing rice and that this food came into the country because it
was needed. Other facts about food supply and requirements have been dis-
cussed in earlier sections. It is safer to assume that there is, or will be, a
genuine shortage of food, perhaps not of very formidable proportions, but still
a shortage, and take the necessary steps to produce more food.
" E n o u g h food" takes precedence over " t h e right kind of food";
calories over proteins and vitamins. When increase in the total supply of
calories, the solid bulk of food, is the primary and most urgent consideration,
attention must be given to any crop which gives a large and rapid return,
irrespective of its nutritive value and the habitual preferences of the popula-
tion. When there is a real food shortage, people will not spurn unfamiliar
food. A few examples may be given in illustration. Tapioca is of low
nutritive value because of its low protein content and in normal times the
replacement of rice or other cereals by tapioca is most undesirable. The
nutrition worker has no affection for this starchy root. Tapioca, however,
gives a large and rapid return—an acre under tapioca will yield 2-4 times as
many calories as an acre under rice or wheat—and it is a dry crop. In the
circumstances the extension of tapioca production in suitable areas would be
4 The Rice Problem in India, Ind. Med. Res. Memoir No. 32, 1940.

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W. R. AYKROYD
justified. Maize, when consumed as the main ingredient in the diet, may lead
to the disease pellagra because of some defect in its chemical composition. It
is, however, a highly productive cereal and if its cultivation can be rapidly in-
creased its qualitative defects should be overlooked. The millets—bajra, jowar,
Italian millet, etc.—are usually considered inferior as foods to wheat and rice.
Actually their nutritive value, in comparison with that of other cereal g r a i n s ,
is in general satisfactory. If they can be produced in greater quantities, they
can replace equivalent quantities of wheat and rice without disadvantage from
the standpoint of nutrition. In certain parts of the Northern Circars the
consumption of millets in place of highly milled rice has had a good effect on
health. Owing to the high price of the latter the poorest classes are eating
one meal of millet daily. As a result the incidence of acute beriberi in adults
and infants has fallen.
Vegetables. During the war a great and successful effort has been made
in Great Britain to increase the production of vegetables. Gardens, allotments,
golf links and plots of waste ground generally have been made to yield their
quota. A carefully planned scheme to ensure a steady supply of vegetables
from small plots throughout the year was drawn up by the Ministry of Agri-
culture. Gardens of about 15x20 yards in area are producing the following
quantities of vegetables in the different seasons:
Gross weight
lbs.
Spring ... ... ... 17
Summer ... ... ... 19
Autumn ... ... ... 19
Winter ... ... ... 26
The possibility of increasing the production of vegetables in India by
such means is obviously much smaller, but something could be done in this
direction. Boarding schools and other institutions receiving government
grants can be compelled to create vegetable gardens, or extend gardens
already in existence. Institutions already producing vegetables for their own
use, such as jails, can increase output by 100 per cent. Owners of suitable
compounds can be encouraged or compelled to grow vegetables. No doubt
there would be difficulties in supplying enough seed for a widespread and
rapid extension of vegetable growing, and any increase in production im-
mediately feasible would amount to only a tiny fraction of the additional food
required. Garden vegetables are in general foods of low calorie content, and
do not add very materially to the energy value of diets. They are, however,
a good source of certain vitamins and of value as "health-giving" foods.

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Orr and Lubbock (loc. cit) make the following comment about the
potato, with reference to war-time food problems in Great Britain :
" T h e potato is of special value for health. An acre of potatoes gives
twice as much food as an acre of wheat. It is the surest first crop off ploughed-
np old pasture. The potato is the lest insurance crop against food shortage.
Potatoes should be subsidised for increased consumption."
The potato is one of the staple foods of the British army. Unfortunately
the areas in which it can be cultivated in South India are limited and there
are likely to be very serious difficulties about fertilisers. But the sweet-potato
thrives in a tropical climate. This root is of considerable value as a supple-
ment to ill-balanced rice diets and its cultivation could be extended with
advantage. The production of yams could also be increased.
The Food Production Conference which met in Delhi in April, 1942,
recommended that " a s an insurance against a shortage of staple foods and
with a view to improving the nutrition of the people, all available lands ad-
joining homesteads should be used for the production of vegetables and
quick-growing fruits, such as papayas, bananas and melons and green fodder
crops for increased production of m i l k " .
More food from cereal grains. In England the use of wheat flour of 85%
extraction has recently been made compulsory—i.e., the population is to be
fed on brown instead of white bread. The effect of this is to increase the
nutritive value of the staple food of the country, but at the same time to
reduce the amount of food for livestock available and hence supplies of milk,
, meat and eggs. Shipping space will be saved by importing less wheat, the
reduced quantity available being made to supply an amount of human food
equivalent to that supplied by the previous larger imports. A given quantity
of grain or grain product fed directly to human beings supplies much more
energy (calories) than the same amount of grain fed through animals and
returned as meat, dairy products, or eggs. The effect of the change, as has
been pointed out, will be to reduce supplies of these foods, but presumably it
is hoped that the improvement in the nutritive value of the staple cereal will
make up for losses in other directions.
In India the position as regards wheat is quite different. The great
bulk of the wheat crop is stone-ground in village homes and small mills, and
consumed whole or nearly so. The production of refined wheat flour (maida)
in roller mills amounts to only 4,00,000 tons, or approximately 4.5 per cent of
the total wheat supply. Clearly, prohibiting the manufacture of white flour
would have a negligible effect on the quantities of wheat products available
for human consumption,
Bice. Some 27 per cent of the total paddy crop is machine-milled, the

156 W. E. AYKROYD
remainder being prepared for consumption by hand-pounding. The total
quantity of machine-milled rice produced amounts to about 7 million tons.
Hand-pounding removes the germ and a proportion of the pericarp; home-
pounded rice is not equivalent to husked whole rice with all the integuments
of the grain intact. Taking home-pounded rice as the standard, what would
be the effect if all the rice produced in India were consumed in the same state ?
A given weight of paddy would yield about 6 per cent more rice for consump-
tion. If all paddy were home-pounded, or milled only to the same degree as
home-pounded rice, an additional 420,000 tons of rice or thereabouts, amount-
ing to about 1.6 per cent of total rice supplies, would become available.
It would be reasonable to encourage the use of home-pounded rice as
a method of extending available food supplies. People used to consuming
highly-milled rice are, however, usually very loath to change over to under-
milled rice, and even if by some miracle of propaganda the change could be
rapidly brought about, it would not greatly influence the situation as regards
total supplies of rice. The same is true of any compulsory measure prohibiting
the milling of rice beyond a certain degree.
Similar problems do not arise in the case of the millets, which are not
subjected to milling processes which remove the most valuable parts of the
grain.
MEASURES TAKEN IN CEYLON5.—The Government of Ceylon has recently
issued a Food Production Order (Estates). Under the terms of this Order,
all estates over 35 acres in area are required to place under food crops an area
of land proportionate to the cultivated area of the estate. In the case of tea
estates the proportion is 24 per cent if the food crop is grown interplanted with
the tea; this is reduced to 12 per cent if land outside the tea-producing area,
wholly planted with food crops, is utilised. A list of foodstuffs approved under
the Order has been issued. This, curiously enough, does not include green
vegetables, but it is likely to be amended so as to permit the cultivation of
green vegetables on 25 per cent of the prescribed area.
To help in the organisation of food production work on estates, a
Central Co-ordinating Committee has been set up under the Chairmanship of
the Deputy Director of Agriculture. This includes the Food Production Officer
(Estates) and the Directors of three Research Institutes. Its functions are
" t o collect as rapidly as possible information in regard to the variety of food-
stuffs which can possibly be grown in different areas, the methods and the
type of cultivation required and to disseminate such information to estates by
the issue of frequent circulars. The Committee will likewise investigate and
5 The following section is based on an article by Roland V. Norris, The Tea Quarterly,
25, March, 1942, p. 1.

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157
advise in regard to the storage and utilisation of the crops produced and the
damage which may be caused by pests and diseases. It will also act in an
advisory capacity in regard to possible amendments which may be required
from time to time to the Food Production Order as experience on food pro-
duction as accumulated."
Norris points out that there will be difficulties in obtaining and distri-
buting supplies of fertilisers. "Every effort should therefore be made to make
use of all available cattle manure and waste materials which should when
necessary be composted. This will apply likewise to the residues from the
crops produced."
How far the scheme will be successful, only time and experience will
show. In Ceylon, unlike India, estates form a high proportion of the total
area under cultivation and the introduction in India of a compulsory measure
similar to the Ceylon Order would have a much smaller effect on the food
situation. Again, Ceylon is threatened with a more serious food shortage
than India. The Ceylon scheme is nevertheless of interest and significance to
us here in India, as representing a planned effort to increase food supplies.
FOOD PRODUCTION AND CONTROL IN INDIA.—Increased production of food
is the first consideration. How is this to be accomplished ? No doubt "grow
more food" propaganda has its value, though a limited one. More concrete
incentives are required. Such an incentive exists in the high and rising price
of food grains, which must stimulate the agriculturist to produce and sell as
much food as he can. Provincial and State governments can assist by such
measures as supplying more seed at cheap rates to cultivators, supplying
manure or grants for its purchase, reducing irrigation charges, remitting
revenue on land now brought under cultivation with food crops, and so on.
Whether it is possible to increase food production rapidly under war
conditions by such means, only experience will show. The favourability or
otherwise of weather conditions for the next few harvests will probably have
more influence on the food situation than the achievements of "grow more
food" campaigns. The amount of land suitable for cultivation not already
under crops must be very small in relation to the area already under cultiva-
tion. The supply of manure will be limited by failure of imports and trans-
port difficulties. On the other hand, some land producing nonedible cash crops
for which the market has disappeared will become available. The cultivation
of vegetables on "available lands adjoining homesteads" can certainly be
increased.
It is anticipated (by the Hon'ble Member for Education, Health and
Lands) that as a result of the food production drive an additional 9,600,000
acres will be put under food crops, giving an additional outturn of nearly

158
W. E. AYKROYD
2,200,000 tons of grain, consisting of 830,000 tons of rice, 470,000 tons of
wheat, 830,000 tons of millet and 50,000 tons of gram.
There appears to be some anxiety on the part of governments lest the
campaign for the increased production of food should lead to a glut of certain
staples, with consequent fall in prices. It has been suggested that the cultivator
should be insured against such an occurrence by the fixation of minimum
prices and a guarantee that the government will purchase surplus crops. From
the commercial point of view, there may be some sense in the word "surplus"
as applied to staple foods in India; there is none from the standpoint of
nutrition. An increase of 20 to 30 per cent in food production would be
absorbed if the entire population had enough to eat, and it must also be re-
called that the population is growing rapidly.
A central organisation which is fully informed about the situation in
all parts of the country is obviously necessary. The Food Production Con-
ference recommended that "when there is a deficit of a particular commodity
in the country as a whole the distribution should as far as transport facilities
permit aim at an equality of sacrifice on all consumers of that commodity".
This is admirable in principle, but scarcely in tune with practice. The natural
tendency of Provinces and States is to grab all the food they can. The
Government of India has recently set up a Central Food Advisory Council
whose functions include the following :
(1) To pool, study and disseminate all available information regarding
food and fodder production ; (2) to plan on an all India basis the food and
fodder production programme for the different regions and tender advice in
regard to its execution; and (3) to advise the authorities responsible about
the equitable distribution of the available food stocks.
This body will naturally be largely dependent on data supplied by
Provincial and State governments. Within each Province, a special officer
with a small staff could be deputed to obtain and collate information about the
situation in various areas.
With regard to the control of available food supplies, the present
situation (July, 1942) is peculiarly chaotic. The fixation of maximum prices
tends to be inoperative because dealers either evade the regulations or with-
hold stocks if they think the fixed price is too low. A "black market" readily
develops. Appeals and threats are alike ineffective. It may therefore become
necessary, if the situation worsens, for the government to take over the
purchase, distribution and sale of certain food products, at any rate in cer-
tain areas where scarcity, distress and profiteering are rampant. In England
the government either directly or through its agents has become the wholesale
purchaser of food, and fixes the price at which it is sold to the retailer.

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In Madras, during the recent food shortage, the Triplicane Urban Co-
operative Society, assisted by the Government, played a most useful part in
organising an emergency supply scheme. The situation was complicated by
the evacuation, shortage of local transport, etc. The Society was able to
supply the public with food at a reasonable cost when most of the retailers
had left the city and those who remained were charging exorbitant prices.
Twentyfive depots were opened in addition to the 33 branches of the Society
previously in existence.
The Food Production Conference recommended that the present food
production drive should be used as an opportunity of instructing the cultivator
in ways and means securing a more balanced diet for himself and his family.
It is possible that the campaign for rapidly increasing food supplies may prove
of benefit to India after the war has been won. War sometimes leads to
reforms and developments which may take a generation or so to effect in
peace-time.
To the nutrition worker, the food situation in India is thoroughly un-
satisfactory in normal times. A nation-wide "grow more food" campaign
would have been appropriate in 1938, before the war started, and will be
appropriate in 1945, when, let us hope, the war will be over. The majority of
the population lives on a diet far remote from the most moderate standards of
adequate nutrition. If India depends entirely on what she can herself produce,
a very large increase in the production of various foods is necessary to raise
existing standards to a satisfactory level. Some of these may be roughly
indicated as follows : cereals, thirty per cent increase; pulses, one hundred
per cent; milk and milk products, three or four hundred per cent; meat, fish
and eggs, several hundred per cent; vegetables, particularly green leafy vege-
tables, one hundred per cent or thereabouts. There is plenty of scope here for
the application of scientific methods to agriculture, animal husbandry and
fisheries. On a broader view, there seems no reason why India should, in a
well-organised world, be entirely self-dependent as regards her food supply.
The mind of man, even amidst the present perplexity and confusion, is slowly
groping its way towards the conception of a planned world economy in which
the enormous resources which the application of science can create will be
distributed according to the needs of each group within our species.