A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors like crop failure, population imbalance, or government policies. 

Usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. 

Every inhabited continent in the world has experienced a period of famine throughout history. In 19th and 20th century, it was Eastern Europe and Asia that suffered most deaths from famine. The numbers dying from famine began to fall sharply from the 1970s.

Some countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, continue to have extreme cases of famine. Since 2010, Africa has been the most affected continent. As of 2017, UN has warned some 20 million are at risk in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. Agricultural conditions have been fluctuating more and more due to variations in weather, and the distribution of food has been affected by conflict. Most programs now direct their aid towards Africa.

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Future Accentuating causes

  • Rapidly exploding population and increasing inequality.
  • Land and soil degradation at faster pace.
  • Climate change and global warming.
    • Changing rain patterns
    • Increasing frequency of extreme weather phenomenon. 
    • Warming-> cropping pattern change 
  • Utilization of agro-land for biofuel crops.
  • Green revolution backfiring: over exploitation of ground water and overuse of chemicals in the successful green revolution area. 
  • Disappearing crucial biodiversity
    • Seeds due to hybrid/gm monocultures -> indigenous and better adapted varieties being lost
    • Insects and birds: 

Famine prevention

  • Focus on food security: By Agricultural improvement, Market access & Government programs like PDS etc. 
  • Relief: Taking care of humans and livestock, ensuring food and nutrition availability and looking after healthcare.

Essential Commodities Act

While liberalizing the regulatory environment, it has also ensured that interests of consumers are safeguarded. In the Amendment to Essential Commodities Act provisions have been made for regulating agricultural commodities in situations such as war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity.

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