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History

Pre-Independence

During the World War II India faced acute food shortages and to meet the exigencies a separate Food Department was established on 1st December 1942 under the Commerce Member of the Governor General’s Council. Following is the extract of note made by the first Secretary Food, Benjamin George Holdsworth, CIE, ICS, taken from the Home Department File No. 388/42-Public, wherein the proposal to issue a formal Resolution of constitution of the new Department of Food by the Home department is dealt.

Summary

(Food Dept. File No.55 (2)/1943/E)

It is proposed that the new Food Department should officially commence operations tomorrow the 1st of December.
Sd/- B.G. Holdsworth, 30/11/42
As proposed
Sd/- LINLITHGOW, 30/11/42
Please issue necessary notifications.
Sd/- Y. N. Sukthankar, 2/12/42
Have spoken to Secretary about the necessity for the issue of a Resolution regarding the creation of this Department. A draft Resolution and drafts of the necessary Notifications are put up below and may issue after Secretary has seen.
Sd/- S.C. Sarkar, 2/12/42
I do not think a Gazette Extraordinary is necessary.
Sd/- B. G. Holdsworth, 4/12/42

Post-Independence

The Food Department was re-designated as Ministry of Food on 29th August 1947. As per available records, the Directorate of Sugar and Vanaspati was part of Food Ministry in 1947. On 1st February 1951 the Ministry of Agriculture was combined with the Ministry of Food to constitute the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, for greater administrative efficiency and economy. Over time as the work expanded significantly, two separate ministries, namely Ministry of Food and Ministry of Agriculture were formed in October 1956 but they were again merged on 17th April 1957 as Ministry of Food and Agriculture. On 30th December 1958, the work related to the Central and State Warehousing Corporations was transferred to the Department of Food, in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

In 1960 the Ministry was made into two departments, namely the Department of Food and Department of Agriculture. Department of Food was given the responsibility of procurement of food grains for civil and military requirements, distribution of imported food grains to States, co-ordination, planning and guidance of national food policy and regulation of import and export of food grains. Directorate of Sugar and Vanaspati remained with Department of Food. Department had various schemes for development of sugar and vanaspati industries. The National Sugar Institute was actively engaged in teaching, training and research for the development of this critical sector.

In 1962 some subjects related to Fisheries, Fruits and Vegetables were transferred from Agriculture to the Department of Food. Subsequently some items related to ‘sugar’ were also transferred to the Department of Food from Agriculture. These included Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow, Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore and Indian Central Sugarcane Committee.

In 1965, under the Food Corporation Act, 1964, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) was set up in the Department, as the country was facing major shortage of food grains, especially wheat.

In January 1966, the Ministry of Community Development and Cooperation was merged with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to form a Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Community Development and Cooperation. Also in 1966 the subjects related to Fisheries, Wildlife Preservation, Prevention to Cruelty to Animals, Movement of Fertilizer, Intensive Agriculture District Plan etc were transferred back from the Department of Food to the Agriculture.

In 1968, Sugarcane Research and Sugarcane Development Scheme were also transferred from the Department of Food back to Agriculture. While the subject of coordination of relief measures during drought, scarcity and famine and that loss of human life during such periods were added to the Department of Food.

In 1971, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Community Development and Cooperation was renamed as Ministry of Agriculture, with four departments, including the Department of Food.

In November 1976, the Directorate of Sugar and Vanaspati was bifurcated, with Directorate of Sugar remaining with the Department of Food, while the work relating to Vanaspati, vegetable oils and fats etc. were transferred to the Ministry of Civil Supplies and Cooperation.

In 1983, the Department of Food was taken out of the Ministry of Agriculture and a new Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies was formed. The following functions were transferred to the Ministry,

  • Purchase of food stuffs for civil and military requirements and their disposal
  • International Wheat Council, International Sugar Council, World Food Council and IFPRI.
  • Entering into treaties and agreements with foreign countries and implementing of treatise, conventions with foreign countries relating to trade and commerce in food grains and other food stuffs.
  • Hiring and acquisition of godowns for storage of food grains and other food stuffs including sugar
  • Inter-State trade and commerce in respect of food grains and foodstuffs including sugar
  • Industries, the control of which by the Union is in public interest, related to fruit and vegetable processing industry, sugar industry including gur and khandsari and food grain milling industry
  • Central Warehousing Corporation and State Warehousing Corporations
  • Trade and commerce in and supply and distribution of food grains
  • Trade and commerce in and the production, supply and distribution of sugar and food stuffs other than food grains
  • Price control of food grains, foodstuffs and sugar
  • Matters related to Directorate of Sugar, National Sugar Institute, Development Council for Sugar Industry and other subordinated offices under Department of Food.

In June 1991, an independent Ministry of Food was created. But in March 1992 in order to improve efficiency, the Ministry of Food, which was having a single department, was divided into two departments, Department of Food and Department of Food Procurement and Distribution.

On 4th June 1997, the Ministry of Food and Ministry of Civil Supplies were merged to form Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs with three departments, Department of Food & Civil Supplies, Department of Sugar and Edible Oils and Department of Consumer Affairs.

On 15th October 1999, the Ministry of Food and & Consumer Affairs was renamed as the Ministry of Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution, however having the same three departments

Finally in the new millennium on 17th July 2000, the then Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution was renamed as the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, with two departments, namely Department of Food & Public Distribution and Department of Consumer Affairs, which is continued till date. And we will have many reasons to celebrate its Diamond Jubilee on 1st December 2017.

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