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SOWING BETTER TO EAT BETTER

SYLLABUS: GS MAINS PAPER 2- Issues related to poverty and hunger

Outline: To understand the need of reformed Food-Agri system and what are the new challenges plaguing the agricultural system.

INTRODUCTION

The health of a country’s agri-food systems determines the health of its people.

The findings from the first National Family Health Survey suggest that nutrition-related indicators have worsened in many states.

The survey covers 17 states and 5 UTs which comprises 54% of India’s population. In addition, findings from the comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (2016-2018) have highlighted the role of micro-nutrient malnutrition.

KEY POINTS

1. The agri-food systems are the most important part of the Indian economy.

2. The agri-food comprises all those activities related to the production, processing, distribution, sale, preparation and consumption of food.

3. India produces sufficient food, feed and fibre to sustain about 18% of the world’s population (as of 2020).

4. Agriculture contributes about 16.5% to India’s GDP and employs 42.3% of the workforce (2019-2020).

CHALLENGES IN THE AGRI-FOOD SYSTEMS

1. Covid-19 has exacerbated the nutrition issue and has increased hunger in India.

2. Climate Change has challenged agri-cultural production itself.

3. India’s biosecurity remains vulnerable to disasters and extensive events.

4. Agri-food systems are also facing new and unprecedented challenges, especially related to economic and ecological sustainability, nutrition and the adoption of new agricultural technologies.

WHAT KIND OF AGRI-SYSTEMS WE NEED?

We need a sustainable agri-food system.

1. A sustainable agri-food system is one in which a variety of sufficient, nutritious and safe foods are made available at an affordable price to everyone and nobody goes hungry or suffers from any form of malnutrition.

2. Less food is wasted, and the food supply chain is more resilient to shocks.

3. Food systems can help combat environmental degradation or climate change.

4. Sustainable agri-food systems can deliver food security and nutrition for all, without compromising the economical, social and environmental bases.

5. Science-based policy recommendations for sustainable agri-food systems-

●Promotion of planetary healthy diets and underutilized wild crops.

●Establishment of de-centralised cold storage units operating of renewable energy.

●Promotion of agronomically suitable crop diversification with price assurance.

●Enhancing the role of digital technology within agri-food systems and digital literacy among agriculture workers.

WAY FORWARD

1. A shift in production can diversify the dietary pattern and for ensuring nutritional security.

 It can be ensured by improving dietary diversity, reducing post-harvest losses, kitchen gardens, making safety net programmes more nutrition-sensitive, women’s empowerment, enforcement of standards and regulations, improving water sanitation and hygiene, nutrition education, and effective use of digital technology.

2. There is an urgent need for reorientation of the long-term direction of agri-food systems to not only enhance farm incomes but also ensure better access to safe and nutritious foods.

3. The agri-food systems need to be reoriented to minimise cost on the environment and the climate.

This need is recognised by the theme of World Food Day 2021: ‘our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life’.

The four betters represent the FAO’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals and other high-level aspirational goals.

4. FAO’s support for the transformation of agri-food system such as mainstreaming greening agriculture, promoting nutrition-sensitive agriculture, agrobiodiversity and strengthening national food security.

5. FAO in collaboration with NITI Aayog and Ministry of Agriculture convened a National Dialogue to evolve a framework for the transition to a more sustainable agri-food system by 2030 and identify pathways for enhancing farmer’s income and achieving nutritional security.

CONCLUSION

For Indians to eat better, India must sow better. India should aim for a food systems transformation, which can be inclusive and sustainable, ensuring growing farm incomes and nutritional security.

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