Recently, the first and historic United Nation Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) 2021, concluded after an intense “bottom up” process to address rising hunger.

The food system transformation is considered essential in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal agenda 2030.

Why the food system summit and what is the expectation from its outcome?

1. Global Food Systems- the networks that are needed to produce and transform food and ensure it reaches consumers, or the paths that food travels from production to plate.

2. The summit created a mechanism for serious debates involving UN Member states, civil society, non-governmental organisations, academics, researchers, individuals and the private sector.

3. The debate and response focused on five identified action tracks namely

●Ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all

●Shift to sustainable consumption patterns

●Boost nature positive production

●Advance equitable livelihoods

●Build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress

4. The statement of Action emerging from the summit offers a concise set of ambitious, high level principles and areas for action to support the global call to “build back better” after the covid-19  pandemic.

Lessons learnt by India with respect to food security

1. The long journey from chronic food shortage to surplus food producer offers lessons in area of public investments, land reforms, public support, institutional infrastructure, new regulatory systems and intervention in agri markets and agri research and extension.

2. The period between 1991 to 2015, saw the diversification of agriculture beyond field crops and brought greater focus on the horticulture, animal husbandry, dairy and fishery sectors.

 The learnings encompassed elements of nutritional health, food safety and standards, sustainability etc.

3. India’s greatest contribution to equity in food is National Food Security Act 2013 anchors its Mid Day Meal, Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).

5. Food safety nets and inclusion are linked with public procurement and buffer stock policy. This was visible during the global food crises 2008-2012 and more recently during covid-19 pandemic fallout, where by vulnerable and marginalised families in India continued to be buffered against the food crisis by its robust TDPS and buffer stock grains.

What are the challenges in achieving food security?

1. Climate change and unsustainable use of water and land resources are the most formidable challenges food systems face today. The latest Inter governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has set to alarm bells ringing, highlighting the urgency to act now.

2. Dietary diversity, nutrition and related health outcomes are another area of concern as a focus on rice and wheat has created nutritional challenges of its own.

3. It is ironic that despite being a net exporter and food surplus country at the aggregate level, India has a 50% higher prevalence of under nutrition compared to the world average.

4. Reducing food wastage or loss of food is a mammoth challenge and is linked to the efficiency of the food supply chain.

Way forward

1. We must collaborate to invest, innovate and create lasting solutions in sustainable agriculture contribution to equitable livelihood, food security and nutrition.

2. There is need to reimagining the food system towards the goal of balancing growth and sustainability, mitigating climate change, ensuring healthy, quality, safe and affordable food.

3. By strong cooperation and partnership between government, citizens, civil society and the private sector, make the world free of hunger by 2030

4. Diversification of cropping patterns is needed for more equitable distribution of water, sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture.


It is important to reiterate that hunger and food insecurity are key drivers of conflict and instability across the world.

The Noble Peace Prize 2020 conferred on the United Nation WFP highlighted the importance of addressing hunger to prevent conflicts and create stability.

The citation communique articulated this well by quoting the line “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos”.

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