Promoting food security and livelihoods for urban poor through the informal sector: a case study of street food vendors in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
- 1.1k Downloads
Although the street food sector plays an important role in urban food security, state-led food security measures in India have failed to provide a role for poor urban street food vendors to engage in the distribution and consumption of healthy foods. Instead, state-led food security schemes, whether production, distribution, or consumption oriented, have viewed the urban poor simply as beneficiaries of subsidized grain. This case study illustrates how the street food sector, operated by poor urban vendors selling ready-to-eat, healthy millet-based porridges in Madurai, has improved access to nutritious foods and created livelihood opportunities for the urban poor. The paper provides an overview of the informal street food sector, socioeconomic conditions of vendors, gender-based division of labour, as well as the food preferences and health awareness of consumers. Analysis of the data indicates the marginalization of street food vendors under the existing policy environment in urban India. The paper discusses how the state, as a regulatory body and a service delivery agent, as well as research and development organizations can strengthen the rights and capabilities of street vendors and, in doing so, improve urban food security.
KeywordsFood security Informal sector Street food Street vendors Small millets Diabetes Urban poverty India
The research for this paper was supported under the CIFSRF (Canadian International Food Security Research Fund) grant received from the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Ottawa. The authors greatly appreciate the intellectual input and logistical support provided by M. Karthikeyan, M. Palanisamy, Dr Damodar Jena, A. Madhankumar, Nivetha Mohan, N. Suji and other colleagues from DHAN Foundation, Madurai, India. We would like to recognise the language translation and other assistance provided in the field research by Esther Parameswari, Anwar Khan and B Gerard from Madurai. Finally, we also acknowledge the helpful insights and critiques provided by anonymous reviewers and editors of Food Security.
- Agarwal, S., Sethi, V., & Nord, M. (2011). Levels and Predictors of Experiential Household Food Insecurity Among Urban Poor of North India. Paper presented at the 10th International Conference on Urban Health, November 2, 2011, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.Google Scholar
- Agricultural Marketing Information Network (2014). Statistical and Analytical Reports. http://agmarkweb.dacnet.nic.in/sa_reports_menu.aspx. Accessed 16 Sept 2014.
- Athreya, V. B., Rukmani, R., Bhavani, R. V., Anuradha, G., Gopinath, R., & Velan, A. S. (2010). Report of the state of food insecurity in urban India. Chennai: M S Swaminathan Research Foundation & World Food Programme.Google Scholar
- Bapat, M. (1990). Informal sector street food vendors: A study in Pune (India). Ottawa. Canada: International Development Research Centre (Canada).Google Scholar
- Bergamini, N., Padulosi, S., Ravi, S. B., & Yenagi, N. (2013). Minor millets in India: A neglected crop goes mainstream. In Diversifying Food and Diets: Using Agricultural Biodiversity to Improve Nutrition and Health (pp. 313).Google Scholar
- Bhowmik, S. K. (2003). National Policy for Street Vendors. Economic and Political Weekly, 1543–1546.Google Scholar
- Bhowmik, S. K. (2005). Street Vendors in Asia: A Review. Economic and Political Weekly, 2256–2264.Google Scholar
- Bhowmik, S. K., & Saha, D. (2012). Street vending in ten cities in India. Delhi: National Association of Street Vendors of India.Google Scholar
- Bhushan, P. (2004). Supreme court and PIL: Changing perspectives under liberalization. Economic and Political Weekly, 39(18), 1770–1774.Google Scholar
- Chakravarty, I., & Canet, C. (1996). Street foods in Calcutta. In J. L. Albert (Ed.), Street Foods (Vol. 17/18, pp. 30–37). Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
- CII (Confederation of Indian Industry). (2008). CII-14 point check on food safety for street vended food. Bangalore: CII Institute of Quality.Google Scholar
- Deaton, A., & Drèze, J. (2009). Food and nutrition in India: Facts and interpretations. Economic and Political Weekly, 44(7), 42–65.Google Scholar
- Department of Food and Public Distribution (2013). Outcome budget 2012–13. New Delhi: Government of India.Google Scholar
- Dev, S. M., & Suryanarayana, M. H. (1991). Is PDS urban biased and pro-rich?: An evaluation. Economic and Political Weekly, 2357–2366.Google Scholar
- Devi, P. B., Vijayabharathi, R., Sathyabama, S., Malleshi, N. G., & Priyadarisini, V. B. (2011). Health benefits of finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.) polyphenols and dietary fiber: a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology, doi: 10.1007/s13197-011-0584-9.
- Draper, A. (1996). Street foods in developing countries: The potential for micronutrient fortification. US Agency for International Development.Google Scholar
- Etzold, B. (2008). Street Food in the Megacity Dhaka: How can we Conceptualize its Role within the Megaurban Food System? In H.-G. Bohle, & K. Warner (Eds.), Megacities: Resilience and Social Vulnerability (SOURCE (Studies of the University: Research, Council, Education), Vol. 10): UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security.Google Scholar
- FAO. (2003). The informal food sector: Municipal support policies for operators. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.Google Scholar
- FAO (2006). The double burden of malnutrition: case studies from six developing countries. FAO.Google Scholar
- FAO. (2007). Promises and challenges of the informal food sector in developing countries. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
- FAO (2013). Food security indicators. http://www.fao.org/economic/ess/ess-fs/ess-fadata/en/#.VBHAI_ldV2G. Accessed 10 Sept 2014.
- Foliot, G. (2011). Cash & Vouchers: When Food is Available but Economically Inaccessible. http://www.wfp.org/aid-professionals/blog/cash-vouchers-when-food-available-economically-inaccessible. Accessed 27 August 2013.
- Gulati, A., Gujral, J., & Nandakumar, T. (2012). National food security bill: Challenges and options, Discussion Paper No. 2. New Delhi: Commission for Agricultural costs and Prices, Ministry of agriculture, Government of India.Google Scholar
- International Diabetes Federation. (2013). IDF diabetes atlas (6th ed.). Brussels: International Diabetes Federation.Google Scholar
- International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) and Macro International. (2007). National family health survey (NFHS-3), 2005–06: India: Volume I. Mumbai: IIPS.Google Scholar
- Jagannathan, R., Nanditha, A., Shetty, A. S., Snehalatha, C., Sundaram, S., Simon, M., et al. (2014). Screening among male industrial workers in India shows high prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance, undetected diabetes and cardiovascular risk clustering. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, 62, 18–21.Google Scholar
- Joshi, S. R., Saboo, B., Vadivale, M., Dani, S. I., Mithal, A., Kaul, U., et al. (2012). Prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes and hypertension in India—Results from the screening India’s twin epidemic (SITE) study. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics, 14(1), 8–15. doi: 10.1089/dia.2011.0243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kapur, A., & Chowdhary, A. (2013). Midday meal scheme, GOI, 2011–12, accountability initiatives: Budget Briefs. New Delhi: Center for Policy Research.Google Scholar
- Kavitha, M. S., & Prema, L. (1995). Post prandial blood glucose response to meals containing different CHO in diabetics. Indian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics, 32, 123–126.Google Scholar
- Khera, R. (2011). Revival of the Public Distribution System: Evidence and Explanations. Economic and Political Weekly, XLVI(44 & 45), 36–50.Google Scholar
- Kumar, P., Mruthyunjaya, & Dey, M. M. (2007). Long-term changes in Indian food basket and nutrition. Economic and Political Weekly, 42(35), 3567–3572.Google Scholar
- Lintelo, D. J. T. (2010). Advocacy coalitions influencing informal sector policy: The case of India’s national urban street vendors policy. In S. K. Bhowmik (Ed.), Street vendors in the global urban economy (pp. 275–309). New Delhi: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Ministry of Agriculture (2011). Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millets Promotion (INSIMP). New Delhi: Government of India.Google Scholar
- Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (2004). National Policy for Urban Street Vendors. New Delhi: Government of India.Google Scholar
- Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation. (2009). National policy on Urban street vendors, 2009. New Delhi: Government of India.Google Scholar
- Ministry of Law and Justice (2013). The National Food Security Act, 2013. http://indiacode.nic.in/acts-inpdf/202013.pdf. Accessed 23 Sept 2014.
- Ministry of Law and Justice (2014). The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. http://www.indiacode.nic.in/acts2014/7%20of%202014.pdf. Accessed 23 Sept 2014.
- Ministry of Women and Child Development. (2013). Expenditure budget, Volume II. (pp. 195 & 360). New Delhi: Government of India.Google Scholar
- Mishra, S. (2004). Food and Nutrition Security in Developing Countries: A Case Study of City of Varanasi in India. Paper presented at the 84th EAAE Seminar ‘Food Safety in a Dynamic World’, Zeist, The Netherlands, February 8–11.Google Scholar
- Mishra, P. (2013). The national food security bill (NFSB) incremental financial and distributional implications: 2013–14 to 2015–16.Google Scholar
- Mohan, V., Radhika, G., Sathya, R. M., Tamil, S. R., Ganesan, A., & Sudha, V. (2009). Dietary carbohydrates, glycaemic load, food groups and newly detected type 2 diabetes among urban Asian Indian population in Chennai, India (Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiology Study 59). British Journal of Nutrition, 102, 1498–1506. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509990468.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- NAAS (National Academy of Agricultural Sciences). (2013). Role of millets in nutritional security of India, policy paper 66. New Delhi: National Academy of Agricultural Sciences.Google Scholar
- Nadar, A. G. (2013). Jayalalithaa’s one-rupee ‘idli sambar’ a hit in Chennai. http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-jayalalithaa-s-one-rupee-idli-sambar-a-hit-in-chennai/20130322.htm. Accessed 14 August 2013.
- Naik, A. K. (2009). Informal Sector and Informal Workers in India. Paper presented at the Special IARIW-SAIM Conference on “Measuring the Informal Economy in Developing Countries”, Kathmandu, Nepal.Google Scholar
- Nambi, V. A., Phillip, M., & Muniyappan, K. (2009). Koozh in Chennai. Neglected Underutilized Species (NUS), Food Security and Livelihood Series - 4. Chennai, TN: M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation.Google Scholar
- NCEUS (National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector) (2007). Report on Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganised Sector.Google Scholar
- NCEUS (National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector) (2008). Contribution of the Unorganised sector to GDP Report of the Sub Committee of a NCEUS Task Force.Google Scholar
- NSSO (National Sample Survey Office) (2007). 61st Round. Report No 513. Nutrition intake in India. New Delhi: Government of India.Google Scholar
- Patel, K., & Dey, K. (2013). The Trajectory of Environmental Justice in India: Prospects and Challenges for the National Green Tribunal. In N. Trivedi, T. A. Mau, D. Vajpeyi, & S. P. Dwivedi (Eds.), Perspectives on Governance and Society: Essays in Honour of Professor O.P. Dwivedi (pp. 160–174). New Delhi: Rawat Publications.Google Scholar
- Patnaik, U. (2008). Theorizing poverty and food security in the era of economic reforms. Globalization and the Washington Consensus: Its influence on democracy and development in the south (pp. 161–200). Buenos Aires: CLACSO, Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales.Google Scholar
- Patnaik, U. (2010). Trends in Urban Poverty under Economic Reforms: 1993–94 to 2004–05. Economic and Political Weekly, XLV(4), 42–53.Google Scholar
- Planning Commission of India. (2012). Report of the expert group to recommend the detailed methodology for identification of families living below poverty line in the urban areas. (pp. 125). New Delhi: Government of India.Google Scholar
- Planning Commission of India. (2013). Data book for DCH: Selected economy & social indicators (based on Economic Survey 2012–13). (pp. 1 & 8). New Delhi: Government of India.Google Scholar
- Rajendran, S. (2013). Amma Unavagams of Tamil Nadu: Panacea for Urban Food Insecurity? Economic & Political Weekly.Google Scholar
- Sen, A., & Drèze, J. (1989). Hunger and public action. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Shah, M. (2013). Understanding the Poverty Line. The Hindu.Google Scholar
- Shobana, S., Harsha, M. R., Platel, K., Srinivasan, K., & Malleshi, N. G. (2010). Amelioration of hyperglycaemia and its associated complications by finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.) seed coat matter in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. British Journal of Nutrition, 104, 1787–1795. doi: 10.1017/S0007114510002977.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- The Economic Times. (2013). Symbol of price control? Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa makes idlis available at Rs 1 apiece.Google Scholar
- The Hindu. (2012). Street vendors find shortcomings in Bill.Google Scholar
- The Hindu (2013). Diabetes: City at high risk.Google Scholar
- The Hindu. (2014). Karnataka forced to explore options to procure millets.Google Scholar
- The Indian Express. (2013). Manmonia’s FSB: 3 % GDP.Google Scholar
- Times of India. (2011). Census 2011: Tamil Nadu 3rd most urbanised state.Google Scholar
- Tinker, I. (1997). Street foods: Urban food and employment in developing countries. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Wipper, M., & Dittrich, C. (2007). Urban street food vendors in the food provisioning system of Hyderabad. Analysis and action for sustainable development of Hyderabad: Research report 4. Berlin: Humboldt University.Google Scholar