Coimbatore: The Food Security Bill needed to be amended to make universal public distribution system with well defined exclusion criteria the pathway to end poverty induced hunger, eminent agriculture scientist Dr M S Swaminanthan said on Monday.

Though having commendable provisions such as a life style approach to food security starting with conception and extending upto old and infirm persons, the bill unfortunately had no role for Gram Sabhas and local bodies in achieving social protection measures, he told reporters here.

He said women were treated as heads of households for the purpose of the food entitlement in the Bill, which has also an enlarged food basket including nutri-cereals like ragi, barja, maize, for distribution under the PDS.

On Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar expressing apprehensions about implementation of food security in view of huge subsidy and expenditure, he said it not only agriculture but various other ministries like rural development, water resources and energy which together could muster huge allocations.

Moreover, Food Security was envisaged for a certain section the people and not the entire population as it focused on three main aspects of availability, access and absorption of food, Swaminathan said.

When asked whether the country could afford to produce required foodgrains, as suggested by him, due to dwindling agriculture lands, he said India had tapped only 50 percent of its production reservoir. It could produce 500 million tonnes of food grains in the next 20 years to meet the increasing population.

For this, both the Centre and state government should come out with Land Use Policy and Land Acquisition policies.

Otherwise, prime agriculture land would be converted as real estates, he said.

A strong bill would exert pressure on government to produce more and procure more, he said.